Economic-development mission to Japan and China

Gov. Bill Ritter and a 40-member business delegation including Colorado State University Interim President Tony Frank and other key CSU officials have returned home to Colorado optimistic and encouraged following a 10-day economic-development mission to Japan and China that emphasized Colorado’s New Energy Economy, bioscience and air travel industries.

The mission focused on creating new jobs in Colorado, new business and investment opportunities for Colorado companies, securing a daily non-stop flight from Denver to Tokyo, and strengthening ties between research universities in Colorado and Asia.

Much optimism and hope for short-term successes

“We return home with much optimism and much hope for short-term successes, particularly in the areas of the New Energy Economy and the biosciences,” Gov. Ritter said. “I’m also confident we will have a Denver-to-Tokyo direct flight sooner rather than later. But the most important achievement is that we have taken a crucial step forward in what must be a long-term, persistent and consistent approach to economic development in Asian markets.

“While the U.S. economy continues to struggle, it is more important than ever for Colorado to be aggressive when it comes to marketing, promoting and developing our economy,” Gov. Ritter said. “We must keep looking for ways to create new jobs, new investments and new opportunities. That’s what this mission was about.”

Sense of common economic interests

“We found several areas of opportunity and a tremendous sense of common economic interests, particularly in the areas of air travel, the New Energy Economy and biosciences,” said Don Elliman, director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “Every time renewable energy came up, you could see the lights go on on the other side of the table.”

“This is a competitive world, and if we are going to create jobs in the U.S. and in Colorado, now is the time for us to be dealing with these foreign markets,” said Joe Blake, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “We left Asia with great hope and great expectations.”

“The next spoke in the wheel for Denver International Airport to be a world-class airport is a direct flight from Denver to the Asian markets, and Tokyo is the gateway to Asia,” said Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock. “This was a very positive trip. I’m very optimistic we could see a direct flight as early as 2010, and that would mean a $100 million to $150 million economic benefit to Denver.”

Quick facts

  • Mission overview: Nov. 15-25 economic-development and trade mission to Tokyo, Yamagata, Beijing and Shanghai, focusing on renewable energy, bioscience, tourism and securing a non-stop daily Denver-Tokyo flight.
  • Mission purpose: Create new jobs in Colorado for Colorado employees, create new economic and market opportunities for Colorado businesses, attract new investments to Colorado, and strengthen ties between Colorado and Asian universities.
  • Mission participants: Gov. Ritter and 40 leaders from state and local governments, economic development organizations, private businesses, and research universities (University of Colorado, Colorado State University and Colorado School of Mines).
  • Gov. Ritter participated in nearly 45 meetings, seminars, speeches, media interviews and other events with government officials, private business executives, economic-development leaders, university officials and others.

Among the mission accomplishments that included Colorado State University:

  • Introduced Asian renewable energy companies, investors, university researchers and government laboratories to the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, which is researching and developing innovative new-energy technologies.
  • Identified opportunities for all Colorado research universities to educate Chinese and Japanese students, particularly in information technology, engineering and the life sciences. Japan is currently in need of 500,000 IT engineers.
  • Gov. Ritter took part in signing ceremonies for Memoranda of Understandings between Colorado State University and:
    • Gifu University and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan to create a global Center for Environmental Medicine.
    • China Institute for Water Resources and Hydropower Research for joint research and scientist exchange.
    • East China Normal University to expand areas of faculty research collaboration and student exchange in the areas of clean energy, global environmental sustainability, geosciences, engineering, education and business.