CHINESE investment is set to change the face of Ipswich apartment living and Mayor Paul Pisasale and Ipswich City Council CEO Jim Lindsay met the two big players in that transformation in Guangzhou over Easter.
Cr Pisasale and Mr Lindsay met with representatives of Etone Investments and R& F Properties, partners in a 10,000 unit development slated for Springfield.
Springfield Land Corporation has partnered with both organisations to deliver the $1 billion major medium to high density apartment project adjacent to the Springfield Central railway station and transit hub.
Mr Lindsay said the discussions enabled the Ipswich duo to be sure that the companies they are dealing with were professional and also to build relationships to facilitate possible further investment opportunities.
"R & F Properties are the developer of 10,000 units in Springfield," Mr Lindsay said.
"The main purpose of the visit to R& F Properties was to build a relationship with them and see how professional the organisation is and what they are doing in Guangzhou and China generally.
"We inspected some of their apartment product and met with the chairman (Zhang Li).
"We were suitably impressed about their ability to deliver.
"This is probably the single biggest residential development agreement with a developer in Ipswich history."
Mr Lindsay said it was the first time Ipswich had a Chinese developer, who was also significant in China, doing a development here.
"With that comes credibility and we should be able to work off the back of that," he said.
Mr Lindsay said Etone Investments was the private equity firm backing the Springfield development.
The Hong Kong-based company sent its key people to meet with Mr Lindsay and Cr Pisasale in Guangzhou.
"Both outfits are professional and credible," Mr Lindsay said.
"To give you an example - R& F Properties have a design team of 500 people and they are a major hotel owner.
"While we were there I went to a design meeting with Etone and R& F Properties, with Springfield Land Corporation representatives, where the master plan that they will put to council for a development application was signed off.
"There is a long way to go with the development but my view is that it is a good development which fits the Springfield master plan."
The council has approved a high density plan for the town centre of Springfield and the development application will go before council in the usual manner.
Council funded the trip which cost $12,000 for Mr Lindsay and Cr Pisasale's flights and accommodation in Guangzhou. Cr Pisasale then continued his trip to other parts of China, including Inner Mongolia, with the tab being picked up by the companies he visited.
Cr Pisasale said his trip to China to meet major industry and business leaders had opened up opportunities for significant investment in Ipswich in the future.
In Inner Mongolia at Xilinguole the Mayor visited a company called Grand Farm, one of China's largest exporters.
With 180,000 sq km of natural grassland, more than 100,000 tons of beef and mutton products leave the site annually.
"They have a partnership with JBS and are one of the the biggest meet producers there, and they use a lot of Australian technology," Cr Pisasale said.
He also visited the Meng league youth entrepreneurship incubator - which could be described as a Mongolian version of Fire Station 101 with its own delivery of e-commerce based training and project development.
"What the government does over there is use their incubators for some of their contracts. They give them a helping hand to get them going and then they progress like a house on fire," Cr Pisasale said.
Cr Pisasale said a sister city relationship with Xilinguole was also discussed.
He also held meetings with China Rail Construction Corporation with the view to getting some business plans put together "so we can get the infrastructure of the future today".
"Thew State Government doesn't have a lot of money for infrastructure now, so it would be good to get people who are prepared to put infrastructure in and get paid off over many years.
"I have met other people who are prepared to invest in growth and infrastructure.
"This is about creating Australian jobs by using foreign capital.
"It was hard work over there but the benefits to the city can be tremendous. The only people I want to apologise to are my family because I missed Easter with them.
"The cost of the trip will pay off one-hundred fold. The benefits of a trip like this continue for years."
Cr Pisasale visited Beijing Datang Fuel and Energy Co which he said sells coal to electricity generation and other related companies within China and had been in discussions with New Hope Coal Group regarding a potential coal agreement.
"They are coming to Ipswich in May to also look at possibilities for sustainable and renewable energy in Ipswich," Cr Pisasale said.
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