ew locations in China can claim as many benefits to industrial investors as the Changzhou National Hi-Tech District (CND) established in November 1992 on the northern side of the city of Changzhou. Just ask any of the more than 1,300 foreign companies that have opened facilities in the 439-sq.-km. (170-sq.-mile) district that is home to a half-million people; about 5 million live in the greater Changzhou metro area.
CND's status as a nationally authorized high-tech zone is significant, because it exists to further China's state economic strategy. As such, CND has benefited from significant investment from the national government.
"CND represents the strategic deployment of the national economy and is the model for the local economy," says Jude Zhou, director of the bureau of commerce at CND. "The national strategy is to attract more advanced manufacturing technology, and we are implementing that strategy here at CND." Preferential incentive policies developed between 1992 and 2007 target companies investing in national economic zones, such as CND.
Its location in the center of the Shanghai Economic Ring in the Yangtze River Delta region is CND's primary strategic advantage. Shanghai, China's chief commercial and financial center, is just 160 km. (100 miles) to the east, and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, is 110 km. (68 miles) to the west. Two expressways transect CND — one running east-west from Shanghai to Nanjing, and one running north-south from Beijing to Hangzhou. The fast train, as the locals refer to China's new high-speed rail service, brings people from Shanghai to CND in just 40 minutes. Maritime and air assets are equally beneficial. The Changzhou Yangtze River International Port has five 50,000-DWT (deadweight tons) docks as well as a petrochemical dock; expansion plans include nine more 50,000-DWT docks and 21 1,000-DWT docks. Changzhou's airport has flights to 20 Chinese metros, and an international cargo terminal is under construction. As such, the ISO 14001–certified CND is the only industrial development zone in China to feature air, port, expressway and high-speed rail logistics.
Other infrastructure, too, is well established at CND. This includes six vocational colleges and universities, 30 R&D institutes and more than 20 training centers for students seeking experience in such fields as mechanical processing technology, advanced materials, electronics and IT, supply chain management, digital design and new materials.
Several world-class hotels are onsite as are residential quarters and dozens of schools. Retail and tourism venues are plentiful in CND. "In our nearly 20 years' experience, we have developed a complete set of internationally accepted business practices in such areas as human resources and hardware infrastructure in support of our international investors," says Jude Zhou.
Who's Investing in CND, and Why
Equipment manufacturers are CND's largest base of investors, with companies in the construction machinery, precision machinery, motor and engine and automotive and locomotive components sectors. Other industries with a growing presence are photovoltaic and renewable energy, chemicals and new materials, biomedical, new energy vehicles, cutting tools and creative industries.
In 2007, Racine, Wis.-based Modine, a leading supplier of thermal management technology and solutions for the transportation industry, invested $16 million in a facility in CND where components for vehicle cooling systems are made with a work force of 325. The plant now is being upgraded to handle the manufacture of the cooling systems themselves, according to Sam Tian, managing director, Modine Thermal Systems (Changzhou) Company. The facility can assume this more strategic role, he explains, because of its location with respect to suppliers and customers and because CND facilitates such growth.
"The infrastructure and local policies are very attractive to foreign investors," he relates. "The location is ideal — it's only one hour to Shanghai. From a logistics standpoint, it's very near several Modine customers that are located in this area, the Yangtze Delta region. And the supply chain in the Yangtze River Delta region is very mature. Most of our suppliers are not very far away from us — one hour, maybe three hours for others. One of our biggest suppliers, Alcoa, is only about one hour away, which is very convenient for us." Modine's many customers include Caterpillar and Hyundai.
Investors in CND learn early on that the administrators are keenly interested in helping them succeed. "With new investors, we apply sincere, open-minded analysis of their requirements," says Jude Zhou. "We respond to their questions immediately and thoroughly, and we meet the commitments we make."
CND is a source of professional trade promotion expertise built specifically to help companies establish operations and to expand them as needed, he adds. "We share the experiences of existing investors with new investors in their industry, so they can benefit from that experience and operate more efficiently. Our project managers will work closely with investors from site selection to commercial registration to construction approvals — we accompany the investors all during this process in order to alleviate concerns they may have."