Suffolk County will play host this summer to entrepreneurs from China and South Korea who are looking for investment opportunities here, County Executive Steve Levy said Tuesday.
Levy was introduced to the wealthy business people during a trip to China last month. He said he was hopeful he could secure investments in real estate, manufacturing, education and pharmaceuticals, among others.
While his trip was initially aimed at luring a food-processing plant to Suffolk, Levy said he learned that wealthy Chinese executives are looking to put their money into a myriad of industries. He also said he saw opportunities for local companies to export goods and services to the Asian behemoth.
“The people we met with have a lot of cash and they want to invest it elsewhere ,” Levy said in an interview. “Some have agreed to come here, and that’s where the decisions will be made as to whether we can make a deal.”
An investor from China is expected to tour Suffolk after July 16 as part of a trip to New York City. Levy plans to show him 10 properties, including office buildings and vacant land.
The investor already owns a restaurant chain and real estate in the United States, along with hotels, offices and tourism-related businesses in China, according to Suffolk officials.
Another investor from South Korea will visit Suffolk in August. She owns real estate in Manhattan and is involved in the cosmetics industry, the officials said.
“The investors were very intrigued by the fact that we are close to New York City yet we have a lot of land in which to grow . . . Many have businesses in New York City,” Levy said. “They are very diverse. It’s not just the potential of a food-processing plant, if at all.”
The plant, which could employ up to 500 people making soda and ready-to-eat meals, is what initially attracted Levy to make the overseas trip. He and Yves Michel, the county’s economic development commissioner, met politicians and business people in Xuwen County, located on a peninsula at the southern tip of the Chinese mainland. Some of the executive came from Hong Kong and Beijing, the nation’s capital.
Levy said, “Nothing concrete at the moment. It’s really going to take this follow up meeting to see if we can get them to sign on the dotted line.”
Michel agreed, adding, “this trip was an important step toward increasing our county’s presence in emerging global markets, and with our foreign trade zone, we are in a great position to attract additional foreign investment.”
The trade zone offers lower or no import duties for tenants, along with other tax benefits.
Levy’s trip, which included eight plane flights, was paid for by the Chinese investors. Above, he signs a sister-city agreement with Chinese officials.
Photo: Levy signs sister-city agreement with officials in China. (May 2011)
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