Sun Lingjun, 35, is looking forward to the upcoming Summer Davos meeting in northeast China's port city of Dalian, Liaoning Province.
Representing Dalian locals at the forum, the entrepreneur will have access to nearly all conferences but the closed-door sessions, a rare opportunity for him to rub shoulders with global opinion-makers.
"I am eager to hear new insights and incorporate them into our strategies and operations," he said.
Sun believes the meeting will give a push to his company, Dalian CheeringTech, which made more than 6 million yuan (around 900,000 U.S. dollars) from sales and services of its primary product, the world's smallest smart camera controller, in Europe, the United States and other overseas markets last year.
FAVORABLE TRADE WINDS BLOWING STRONG
Sun's enthusiasm for Summer Davos, officially the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, is echoed across the country. Over 2,000 figures from politics, business, civil society, academia and the arts will assemble in the city from June 27 to 29 to discuss topics from inclusive growth to the new industrial revolution.
Established by the World Economic Forum in 2007, the meeting is held each year in China, alternating between Dalian and Tianjin.
Summer Davos has been good for Dalian, reshaping the landscape of regional economy and strengthening the port's trade with other markets. The city has become a financial, shipping and logistics center for northeast China and beyond.
"By hosting Summer Davos, Dalian has become an international city, a showpiece of reform and opening up and a center of economic growth," said Guo Xikun, an official coordinating the meeting.
Dalian registered 6.5 percent economic growth in 2016, the only city with any significant growth in the whole province. The city imported nearly 180 billion yuan of goods last year, and exported over 160 billion yuan, more than half of the province's total.
Summer Davos has brought the world to doors of many local firms.
"We are based in Dalian but think of ourselves as a global business," Sun said. Around 95 percent CheeringTech business came from overseas last year and Sun is now helping other companies raise funds via websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
A local manufacturer of numerical control machines, Dalian Guangyang Science & Technology Engineering has products that compete with global leaders.
"We have mastered the core technology of an area once seen as a weak link in China's manufacturing sector and we are now expanding into the international arena," Guangyang's chairman Yu Dehai said.
SMOOTH SAILING AHEAD
"Foreign firms see Summer Davos as a bellwether of China's economy and external policies," said Lawrence Lin, managing director of Orix Corporation's China branch.
The Tokyo-based financial multinational set up its China headquarter in Dalian in 2009 when the meeting was held there for the second time. In 2015, it increased its registered capital by 300 million U.S. dollars, encouraged by growth prospects.
"The decision to invest more in China has been very good for our company," Lin said. Orix's global revenue grew 13.1 percent in the last fiscal year and net profits rose by 5 percent.
Following Orix, other foreign investors began to set up businesses in Dalian. Temasek, a Singapore investment company, established a joint venture and spent 1 billion yuan building an IT park, which is now home to branches of IBM and Konica Minolta, among others. Woon Yun Ling, senior general manager of the park, said the company plans to spend another 200 million yuan on expansion.
During the Meeting of the New Champions two years ago, Dalian reached investment agreements worth 3.4 billion U.S. dollars with foreign companies, including Goodyear, Maflow, Pfizer and SoftBank Group, in areas including finance, manufacturing and e-commerce. To date, 18,600 foreign-funded companies have invested more than 100 billion U.S. dollars in Dalian.
Lin's company is considering patent cooperation with a local research institute and hopes to assist in the reorganization of state-owned enterprises.
"The industrial potential and R&D capability of the city and broader northeastern China are attractive to overseas investors," he said.