International Business Mission Trips

The International Business Division of the Office of Economic Development was created in October of 2005. Since its establishment, the City of Dallas has made 11 trips to China, two trips to Korea, one trip to Brazil and 8 trips to Mexico to promote business relations with different cities.

Two recent business development trips were successfully led by Mayor Tom Leppert.


In April 2008, Mayor Leppert led a delegation to visit 7 cities in China. The delegation consisted of Dallas City Council members, Dallas business leaders and City staff. During the mission:

  • The group visited Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
  • The Mayor met with big corporations in China and established solid business relationships.
  • The Mayor signed two “Friendship City Agreements” which are key pacts need to help boost trade and attract investment with Dallas.
  • The Mayor and his delegation met with two Chinese airlines. They laid the ground work to negotiate a non-stop flight between DFW Airport and China within the next few years.
  • The group met with the Mayors of Tianjin, Qingdao, Dalian and Shenzhen, along with major corporations within the cities visited.

In a wrap up dinner with the delegation, Mayor Leppert said Dallas plans to return and build upon those relationships.

“We certainly are proud with what we accomplished during this trip,” said Mayor Leppert. “But even more important – we have established strong personal relationships in each of these cities. This is what it will take to establish Dallas as a major player in the global economy for the long haul.”

South Korea and China

In November 2009, Mayor Leppert led another business development delegation to visit South Korea and China. The delegation includes Dallas business leaders, City Economic Development staff and leading members of Korea-American and Chinese American business communities in North Texas.

During the mission to South Korea, Mayor Leppert and Councilmember Ron Natinsky met with top government and business leaders in Seoul, Daejeon and Suwan to boost trade and investment between Dallas and South Korea.

With $9 billion in trade between the two in 2008, Korea is the 2nd largest trading partner for DFW. It is the first official visit to South Korea by a Dallas mayor.

In addition to meetings with business and political leaders, Mayor Leppert and Councilmember Natinsky met with 50 investors at Korean Trade-Investment Pormotion Agency. They briefed the group on Dallas’ new economic development tool, the City of Dallas Regional Center (CDRC). The CDRC program provides foreign nationals permanent resident status if they invest at $500,000 in qualified projects that create a certain number of jobs.

The Dallas business development delegation is focused on boosting investment, trade and business ties with South Korea and China. Despite the economic downturn, Mayor Leppert said it is important that Dallas continue to raise its profile with its largest trading partners.

After Korea, the group moved to Beijing and began meeting with major firms and individual investors to focus on economic development projects proposed for Dallas. Several of the projects are already in advanced stages. One firm manufactures the giant blades and turbines used to create renewable energy from wind. The firm has since paid a visit to Dallas and is actively looking for a site in Dallas for their North America assembly facility. The group also met with Chinese investors interested in the city’s new economic development tool, the City of Dallas Regional Center (CDRC). One firm the delegation met with is a major Chinese logistics corporation which wants to expand its operations to the United States.

After Beijing, the delegation flew to Nanjing and met with Mayor Ji Jianye. Mayor Leppert and Mayor Ji signed a Friendship Agreement between Nanjing and Dallas. In China, these agreements carry significance in trade and business deals. Mayor Leppert and Councilmember Natinsky also presented the CDRC program to 30 investors who are interested in participating in the CDRC program.

The final leg of the trip was to Shanghai. The delegation toured a plant on the perimeter of Shanghai which makes semiconductors and LED lighting equipment, fixtures and bulbs for residential and commercial use. Mayor Leppert and Councilmember Natinsky are encouraging the company to locate an LED manufacturing facility in Dallas.

The delegation also held a two-hour meeting in Shanghai with about 60 potential investors to promote the CDRC program.

“The trip has been extensively covered by the local press in both South Korea and China and has gone a long way towards changing attitudes about Dallas in a positive way,” said councilmember Ron Natinsky, Chairman of the Council’s Economic Development committee. “And now with our CDRC, we can translate that interest into investment.”