A lot of American companies have their products made in China and sold in the United States, but that business model might be changing. On Monday, a new China-based marketer opened an office in Atlanta to help companies from both countries sell and market their products to each other.
Chinamex is a business incubator backed by the Chinese government. Its mission is to push products and investment around the world. It already has offices in Dubai and Amsterdam.
Its Atlanta office highlights smaller companies in central China's Hubei province.
Jin Bo of Hubei Tianrui Electronic Co. shows off a small GPS clock that he says can make power grids more efficient. But his company hasn't cracked the U.S. market. He hopes Chinamex can help.
And Hanson Zhang, Chinamex's U.S. representative, says that's the goal: to help executives from both countries do business together.
"We have a big database, so if American companies who want to work with Chinese companies, they can just give me an e-mail or tell me just what they want," he says.
Chinamex only makes the connections and stays out of the business negotiations.
Li Qi, an economics professor at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, says some Chinese companies looking for cash may need this kind of push.
"I'm not surprised this kind of service emerged," she says. "I think it is helping the Chinese domestic companies find not only customers here, but potential business investment as well."
She says nonstate-owned firms in China can have a tough time getting funding from Chinese financial institutions, which prefer government businesses. To that point, Chinamex says it is working on a $120 million deal between a New York investment firm and a Hubei manufacturing company.
Meanwhile, Georgia officials hope Chinamex can facilitate Chinese investment in the U.S. — preferably in the form of factories and jobs for goods made in America and sold in China.
"Chinamex is a great start," says Ken Stewart, who heads Georgia's state economic development office. "We believe that Chinamex will bring a diversity of companies here to explore and learn this marketplace, and they will learn where we have opportunities within the existing company structure in Georgia that can be filled."
The deal for the company's U.S. headquarters took five years to finalize and was slowed by the recession. The facilities aren't as big as originally planned. Still, officials hailed the opening of Chinamex as an accomplishment and said they're ready for business.