Bringing a Taste of Louisiana to China While Stimulating Business Back Home

by / Newsroom Ink on July 22, 2013
China Team1

Kristen Legendre (left), Terrebonne-Weihai Director of Business Development, and David Rabalais, executive director of the Terrebonne Port (second from left) and Steve Vassallo, CEO of Terrebonne Parish Economic Development Authority (green shirt), in Weihai, China with representatives of Weigao Holding Company Limited.  Weigao Holding’s has 18 subsidiaries and more than 9,000 employees. US. Photo: Terrebonne Parish Economic Development Authority

by Gordon Curry/Newsroom Ink

A contingent from the Terrebonne Parish Economic Development Authority (TEDA) is in Weihai, China, a port city on the north coast of the Shandong Peninsula. Its mission? To explore further economic development opportunities around seafood and other industries.

According to Steve Vassallo, CEO of TEDA, this trip is the organization’s second since June 2012, when it signed a five-year economic development alliance with Weihai.

“We’re working on a number of projects – going in both directions – that we want to bring to the attention of the Chinese,” said Vassallo. “So we have a pretty full agenda, not only in Weihai, but also in Beijing.”

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A contingent from the Terrebonne Parish is in Weihai, China, a port city on the north coast of the Shandong Peninsula. Kristen Legendre, Terrebonne-Weihai Director of Business Development, and David Rabalais, executive director of the Terrebonne Port, are part of the team promoting southern Louisiana business interests.. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

Projects include exporting Louisiana seafood to high-end Chinese restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.

“We want to open the doors to Gulf seafood in China. We found last year after talking to the embassy and other agencies that there’s a growing niche for Gulf seafood because of its quality, which caters to the tastes of the rapidly expanding Chinese middleclass.”

While seafood is at the top of the list, Vassallo said they are also looking at joint ventures involving ship building and repair, as well as oil and gas.

“The Port of Terrebonne is located on the Houma Navigation Canal, within a half mile of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway,” said David Rabalais, executive director of the Terrebonne Port Commision, who will also take part in the trip. “This location puts the port in a strategic position to take advantage of significant cargo flows and marine traffic on both waterways.”

At the Motivatit docks in Houma, oyster fisherman prepare to unload the days catch. Kristin. Photo: Ed Lallo/Louisiana Seaf0od News

At the Motivatit docks in Houma, oyster fisherman prepare to unload the days catch. Kristen Legendre will set up a base of operations in the General Foreign Affairs Office of Weihai City and, from there, branch out in a three-month networking mission that includes Louisiana seafood. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

One of TEDA’s objectives is to bring foreign direct investment to Louisiana.

“This is a reciprocal relationship between two sister cities,” said Kristen Legendre, Terrebonne-Weihai Director of Business Development. “TEDA will be looking at ways China can invest in the Louisiana seafood industry, particularly in Terrebonne Parish, which is home to one of the largest shrimping companies and the largest oyster production company in the U.S.”

Currently, TEDA is the only economic development authority in Louisiana to have established an accord with mainland China. “TEDA is taking the lead in pursuing realistic opportunities to bring foreign direct investment into the parish,” said Legendre.

Legendre will set up a base of operations in the General Foreign Affairs Office of Weihai City and, from there, branch out in a three-month networking mission.

She will establish relationships with Chinese importers of Gulf seafood to meet increasing demand from the Chinese middleclass, which is expected to double in 10 years. She also will make contacts with Chinese media that focus on food and entertainment to stimulate interest in seafood production and tourism in Louisiana.

According to Legendre, the average Chinese tourist spends about $6,000 when visiting the United States. Recently, New Orleans was recognized by national food and travel magazines as a top city for cuisine and is less than an hour’s drive from Terrebonne Parish.

Earlier this year, TEDA served as host to the Weihai General Foreign Affairs Office Deputy Director, who came to explore business opportunities for Weihai.


Originally published on LouisianaSeafoodNews.com

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About the Author

About the Author: Ed Lallo is the former editor of Gulf Seafood News and CEO of Newsroom Ink, an online brand journalism agency. .

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