Gary Oppedahl is the director of the city of Albuquerque's Economic Development. (File photo)
More than 150 participants in the International Chinese Entrepreneurs Association are expected to descend upon the Albuquerque Convention Center Oct 2-5.
That’s because Albuquerque is host to the 2017 ICEA US-China Business Matchmaking Summit, which aims to give New Mexico’s business community an opportunity to connect with visiting Chinese delegates.
“This is the first time that such a large group of Chinese has come to New Mexico seeking business opportunities,” said Jian Zhu, summit chair and ICEA incoming board of directors chair, in a statement.
According to the event’s organizers, over 100 New Mexico-China business opportunities have already been screened for the summit.
Speakers at this year’s event will include Richard J. Berry, mayor of the city of Albuquerque; Deborah Burns, CEO and director of investUS LLC; Garrey Carruthers, president of New Mexico State University; Song Cao, president of ICEA; Mark Lautman, founding director of Community Economics Lab; Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork + Co.; and Gary Oppedahl, director of the city of Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department.
Oppedahl told Business First on Monday this conference has been about two years in the making.
“It’s timely right now as we see a lot of disasters around the world,” Oppedahl said, referring to Albuquerque’s benefits for a business that include mild, consistent weather.
“As Fidelity has found out, this is a great place to do 24/7 business. That’s why Facebook is here,” Oppedahl said.
Los Lunas is the future home of a Facebook data center, with its first $250 million phase of the 980,000-square-foot Facebook data center set to open next year.
Oppedahl said Chinese entrepreneurs will also be interested in Albuquerque as an up-and-coming, but still inexpensive tech hub.
“They have on their radar American cities for investment. As a trading partner, we’re doing well with China and can always do better.”
He said there also has been an increase in the amount of merchandise exported to China from New Mexico in recent years, which is supported by data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2016 exports to China from New Mexico increased to 496,775,092 from 105,893,88 in 2014, according to data from the Foreign Trade Division, U.S. Census Bureau.
ICEA is a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering Chinese entrepreneurs around the world with leadership and management skills through the practical interaction of networking and communications, and providing a platform for business leaders to collaborate and partner together, according to its website.
Albuquerque hosts more than 370 meetings and events each year, which brings an estimated $73 million to the Duke City, according to Visit Albuquerque.