Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is heading back to China next week for the opening of a Wichita-China office to support trade opportunities for Wichita’s aviation industry.
China’s general aviation industry is growing and the trade office’s mission will be to promote Wichita’s industry and identify sales and partnering opportunities. So when the Chinese think about developing aviation, they think about Wichita first.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for us to be able to sell a lot of planes in China based on their long-range plans,” Brewer said. “We’re trying to take an aggressive approach.”
The office in Beijing will work to connect Wichita and China businesses for parts, maintenance and other products and services.
“We need to be in the game of international trade, and this trip reflects our dedication to helping Wichita companies expand their export opportunities,” Brewer said.
Having a presence on the ground in China is important, he said. When Wichita businesses visit China, they will have a representative to help them make contacts and connections, he said. The Chinese will have a place to turn as well.
Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services, will join Brewer on the trip. She compares China’s general aviation industry today to the barnstorming days of Wichita’s aviation industry.
“It’s in its infancy,” Page said.
As China’s aviation industry grows, it will need parts, fixed-base operators, maintenance-and-repair centers and airplanes, she said.
“When someone says, ‘Hey, do you know how I can get FBO training? I want to start one,’ we want the office to say, ‘You know what, we’re going to get you the right people,'” Page said.
The idea to open an office in Beijing came after a visit to China by Brewer, Page and other government and economic development officials in 2012. During the 12-day trip, the delegation met with key government and business officials in six Chinese cities.
The delegation realized that the Chinese recognize Wichita as a leader in general aviation, Brewer said. That gives the city the opportunity to support Wichita’s aviation efforts by marketing the Air Capital of the World in China.
The office, which was started by the Kansas Global Trade Services, will also work to help companies protect their intellectual property.
“One of the greatest concerns that Americans have when doing business abroad is intellectual property protection,” Page said. “There are actions that a company can take to mitigate it. … We’ll work with them.”
Not only are the Chinese interested in Wichita products, they’re also interested in investing in the U.S., Page said.
“We want them to think about Wichita and Kansas,” Page said.
The Beijing office is a pilot project initially budgeted at $300,000 to $500,000, Page said. It will be funded by private sponsors in China and Wichita with oversight by Kansas Global Trade Services, she said.
Fundraising began just three weeks ago, but Beechcraft and Cessna Aircraft already have donated enough to fund the program for the first year, Page said.
Eventually, the goal is to grow and spread awareness of Wichita’s aviation sector across more of China.
“We’re going to see if the ideas that we have about marketing and promoting the Air Capital in China is going to bring about the opportunities we think they will,” Page said. “If it does, we’ll continue on.”
While in China, Brewer and Page will attend the China International General Aviation Convention in Xi’an, which attracts Wichita manufacturers and government and industry leaders from China.
During the show, Beechcraft will deliver a King Air C90 aircraft to the Civil Aviation University of China.