World Business Chicago (WBC) and Choose Chicago hosted a reception today for 100 Chinese business executives and tour operators in Shanghai, China, as well as alumni of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The reception was held prior to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) performance at the Oriental Arts Center and was the culmination of a WBC business mission including former White House Chief of Staff to President Obama and U.S. Commerce Secretary under President Clinton, Bill Daley, and World Business Chicago Vice Chairman, Michael Sacks. Choose Chicago President and CEO, Don Welsh was in China this week leading a multi-city mission to promote travel to Chicago.

Pictured above are (left to right): Patrick Chen (deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration), Michael Sacks (vice chairman of World Business Chicago; CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management), Don Welsh (Choose Chicago President and CEO), U.S. Consul General in Shanghai Robert Griffiths, Bill Daley (former White House Chief of Staff to President Obama; former Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton), Jeffrey Yang (former Consul General of China in Chicago).

The WBC group also visited Hong Kong and Beijing, where they met with business and government leaders, seeking to bring investment and jobs to Chicago. Daley served as a business ambassador for Chicago in China due in part to his unique connections with the nation. Daley and Sacks met with more than 30 senior level executives and several Chinese government leaders, including the Mayor of Beijing, Minister of Commerce, and Foreign Minister, in addition to U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke.

“We’re here today to make it clear that Chicago is a great destination for tourism, as well as for business,” said Daley. “Chicago is the gateway to the heartland of America and the most China-friendly city in the U.S.”

The partnership between WBC and Choose Chicago for this event demonstrates how collaboration between organizations can generate increased awareness for Chicago’s position as a premier business and visitor destination. Building upon the CSO’s performance, WBC and Choose Chicago promoted Chicago’s business advantages and cultural gems, showcasing the city with a Chinese version of the Heart of America video.

“The increased Chinese focus on U.S. leisure travel has proven beneficial to Chicago,” said Welsh. “Our central location and the only dual airline hub in the country, allows for six daily nonstops and will increase to seven flights with the Hainan service beginning in September.  Travel to Chicago has never been easier for the Chinese traveler.”

A musical force in Chicago and around the world, the CSO has been consistently hailed as one of the finest international orchestras since its founding in 1891. This Asian tour includes concerts in Taipei, Taiwan at the Chiang Kai-Shek National Concert Hall; in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival; in Shanghai (Oriental Art Centre), Beijing (National Center for the Performing Arts) and Tianjin (Tianjin Grand Theater) in China; and in Seoul, South Korea at the Seoul Arts Center. Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO.

The Chicago area is home to more than 40 mainland Chinese-owned companies, and there are more than 150 Chicago-area companies with locations in mainland China.  China is the Chicago area’s largest global trade partner with $41.8 billion in imports and $4.1 billion in exports in 2011 according to the Chicago Customs District. In addition to Shanghai, Chicago shares a Sister Cities relationship the city of Shenyang.


Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor destination levering the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. 

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