Local business pins hope on Chinese presidential visit

January 19, 2011

By Odette Yousef

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(Getty/Alex Wong)
Chinese President Hu Jintao, center, is scheduled to visit Chicago Thursday.

Many in Chicago's business world are hoping that today’s visit from Chinese President Hu Jintao will signal the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship with the Chinese mainland.  Mr. Hu is expected with a large delegation of Chinese business leaders that are looking hungrily at the U.S. as a growth market.

But that relationship goes both ways, says Rita Athas of World Business Chicago. Athas says it’s not just big Chicago-based companies that see growth opportunities in China, but small- and mid-sized companies, too. “For example, Groupon, which is one of the big success stories right now, is looking at China as a new market for their internet company,” says Athas. World Business Chicago will host a large business forum and networking event for Chicago and Chinese business leaders on Friday. Mr. Hu is not expected to attend that event.

Chicago is the only other U.S. city that Mr. Hu will visit after yesterday's day-long powow with President Obama in Washington. He will also tour Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, where students learn Chinese. At night, the Chinese head of state will attend a privately-sponsored gala dinner with Mayor Daley and Maggie Daley.