The 2018 Sino-Texas Business & Investment Forum Recap


October 24, 2018 - The current analysis of the sensitive trade relations with China was the hot topic during the conference and how that could affect foreign investment to Texas. University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs China Public Policy Founder, David Firestein opened the conference with his short analysis and closed the conference with a full analysis. All of which was spoken in fluent Chinese by Firestein to the Chinese dominated audience. That prompted the many university student volunteer interpreters to translate his insightful assessment to the U.S. attendees.

Opening the conference was a genuine Texas welcome from State Representative Eddie Rodriguez and an international welcome from IITI Chair Dandan Zou. The forum was MC’d by IITI Executive Director Richard May with presentations from Georgetown mayor Dale Ross, Chinese investor Yonghua Wang and international attorney, Owen Gu covering all of the aspects of why to invest in Texas and why the Chinese are looking to invest in Texas. Capping the session was David Firestein, giving a brief update on the current and sensitive U.S./China relations.

Mainstay Global’s Jared Mermis started off the next morning talking about the external environment of living and investing in Texas and University of Texas at San Antonio International Trade Center’s Jaime Martinez on the resources that are available for foreign investors. After their presentations the dialogue was dominated by two powerful conversations going on in the Texas business environment, especially in Austin, was real estate and high-tech featuring four-person panels from each. 

In the afternoon and evenings, IITI stayed true to their concentration with real estate and high-tech. Wednesday, the Chinese guests were treated with a tour and reception at the Capital Factory. The Capital Factory is a technology incubator, accelerator and venture fund all rolled into one. The Capital Factory houses hundreds of businesses centered around high-tech and sponsor all shapes and sizes from one-man startups to Dell, Texas A&M and Walmart.

The next day’s afternoon event featured a hard hat tour of the Proper’s high rise condo/hotel development in downtown Austin from Bailey Tipps. The tour included IITI investors and attendees shooting up 30 stories in a large open cage to witness their art in progress of two-story condos ranging from $1-6 to $1.8 million to one bedroom condos at a mere $750,000. The hard hats were necessary as the high-rise is still in full construction mode featuring concrete, no windows and a lot of space that the tour guide had to fill in for the imagination. The hard hats also helped with the constant rain while the open holes soon-to-be windows showed the 40-story high view of the historic floods rushing down the Colorado River aka Lady Bird Lake just below.

That evening, the guests were treated to a reception at the Grove Real Estate Development offices in central west Austin. The Grove is a brand new mixed-use development just beginning a few blocks down the road at 45th street and Bull Creek Road that will showcase a different but similarly priced homes in a neighborhood setting rather than a high-rise. Along with dinner, The Grove’s Edjuan Bailey gave a detailed demonstration of the homes to be built and the return on investment those homes will provide to any investor.

The final day represented the heart and soul of the conference which was investing matchmaking from projects in Austin, San Marcos and Frisco to the attending Chinese investors. Projects included investment into “opportunity zones” presented by Teresa Shell and Bryce Berta from Shell Real Estate Services. Joshua Baer touting the many investment opportunities from the Capital Factory. Jian Wu presenting the Daytona multi-family development. Steve Tolen from Indie Powersneeding more funding to complete the management of their innovative energy battery system. Kavi Capital’s Eduardo Viesca and Alfredo Kawage presented their apartment development in San Marcos to fill the growing population in the area especially in terms of Texas State University Students. Then Calvin Chen and Bethany Fadel showcasing their innovative design and development looking to fund the remaining of the development.

The next presentation was an in-depth analysis of the U.S./China tariff “war” from David Firestein. Speaking in fluent Chinese, volunteer Chinese college students helped all of the U.S. attendees understand the complicated nuances going on between Shanghai and D.C. - What does it mean today and especially for tomorrow?

The last of the business program showcased Jared Mermis being awarded the IITI International Business Award. David Firestein received the IITI International Partnership Award and all of the Chinese student volunteers receiving IITI Ambassador Awards. Capping off the event was a private tour of the LBJ Presidential Library for the international guests and attendees. Go to IITI’s Flickr page for a personal view of the conference.