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Ventura wraps up China visit
By Michael Khoo
Minnesota Public Radio
June 14, 2002


Gov. Jesse Ventura has wrapped up his week-long visit to China. Ventura and some 100 government and business leaders have spent the last week in Beijing and Shanghai, drumming up support for Minnesota goods and services. The governor and members of the delegation are calling the trip an unqualified success, although most agree the dividends won't be immediately apparent.

Gov. Ventura
Gov. Ventura tours the 3M facility in Shanghai. The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week, and Ventura marked the occasion by planting a tree on the facility's grounds.
(MPR Photo/Michael Khoo)

Ventura began his last day in China with a visit to 3M's Shanghai facility. The visit coincided with the company's celebration of its 100th anniversary, and the governor marked the occasion by planting a tree on the facility's grounds. Ventura took the opportunity to praise 3M for its initiative. The company, it was noted, was the first foreign firm to open a wholly-owned subsidiary in China back in 1984.

"3M is truly a global company with top quality products and services, strong ethical standards, and talented employees. If you do business with 3M you are doing business with the best," Ventura said.

After a brief tour of the 3M facility, Ventura moved on to the Shanghai Childrens Memorial Hospital. The hospital was established with the assistance of several prominent Minnesota companies, including 3M, Northwest Airlines, Medtronic, and St. Jude's Medical Center.

Ventura visited the hospital's young patients and their parents, then sat down with members of the trade mission's medical technology delegation to solicit feedback. He told participants the rewards of the mission would be measured over the coming years.

Dragon dancers
These are the "dragon dancers" who performed at the start of Gov. Ventura's visit to 3M. Here they're taking a break.
(MPR Photo/Michael Khoo)

"These are not vacations - they are important for the state of Minnesota - and you can't measure their importance, how they're going to be," said Ventura. "I hope you believe like I do, you won't judge these 'til five years from now, six years from now, maybe 10 even - that the ultimate results will come out from these type of trade missions."

Some companies may see dividends sooner rather than later. Tom Wyrobek is the president of Hysitron, a small Minneapolis business that develops instruments for nanotechnology researchers.

Wyborek says Hysitron was able to seal one deal worth nearly $250,000 during the trade mission. He says the company's success was due, in part, to the welcoming atmosphere created by the delegation.

"This was a plethora of small, medium, and big-sized companies that all work together to promote Minnesota," Wyborek said. "I'm surprised we didn't break out into "Onward, Minnesota" here...Everybody was very proud of Minnesota and to actually represent Minnesota a little bit, in their own fashion, with their own business. This is what they offer."

Gov. Ventura
Gov. Ventura talks with a four-year old leukemia patient at the Shanghai Childrens Memorial Hospital.
(MPR Photo/Michael Khoo)

Other delegation members talked of greater access to Chinese business and government officials, access that many attributed to Ventura's star power. Erin Binder represents Veritec, which develops bar code identification systems for manufacturing and security purposes. Binder says the company sees plenty of opportunities in the Chinese market, and the trade mission helped allay concerns about doing business in the country.

"I was afraid that even with the WTO, that there maybe was a certain amount of lip service," says Binder. "(I) was really pleased to find that the government officials at least...seem to have a very good intent, and are providing us resources to get what we need to have a business that we can protect in China."

Most trade mission delegates, including the governor, return to Minnesota Saturday. Ventura will arrive just as the state Republican convention adjourns.

Ventura has suggested he'll announce next week whether he will seek re-election. Ventura says his decision on another four years rests principally on personal factors, and on the toll the governorship has taken on his family.

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