REGION - Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Wayne Rice, flew out on Saturday night bound for China and took with him a clear message that the shire is open for business.
Cr Rice was invited to join Premier Denis Napthine on a Super Trade Mission to China and was excited by the opportunities such a visit could create.
"It's all systems go and I am very excited," Cr Rice said.
"The timing of this is just unbelievable. It will help to create so many opportunities for investment into our shire from the Chinese."
Cr Rice said he wasn't expecting to fly back to Australia with a $50 million contract in his hands, but could clearly see the potential that his participation in the Super Trade Mission could have for the Northern Grampians.
"I know I'm not going to come back with any big contracts, that's not what the trip is about," he said.
"It's about establishing contacts and connections. I have already been networking and making contacts in the lead up and that's what this is all about.
"If we can make connections that will once day turn into an investment into our shire, then it will have been worthwhile."
Cr Rice spent last week at the Sustainable Economic Growth in Regional Australia (SEGRA) Conference at Coffs Harbour and said the two trips would tie in together very well.
"It has been amazing in Coffs Harbour hearing from so many people who are eager to tap into the Chinese market," he said.
"Attending the SEGRA conference had been locked in long before we knew about the Super Trade Mission to China so in reality, that trip was secondary. However, it has been amazing how often China has come up at this conference and how many regions are so keen on tapping into the Chinese market.
"It just goes to show what a wonderful opportunity it is for us being invited to participate in the Super Trade Mission.
"We know the Chinese have money to spend and are eager to invest in Australia. We need to capitalise on that and sell the Northern Grampians Shire as a great investment opportunity.
"Through making these contacts and connections, I'm sure there will be the need for follow up visits to China by shire representatives. It may or may not be me, but I'm sure there will be opportunities in the future for this to take place and ensure the lines of communication stay open so we can attract investment into our shire.
"The first thing to do is put a sign up saying we in the Northern Grampians are open for business and that is exactly what I will be doing."
Cr Rice is being joined on the Super Trade Mission by Clyde Humphries as his personal assistant.
Councillors spoke highly of Mr Humphries and the opportunities that may be created by utilising his experience and expertise in China.
"I am happy to support having Clyde accompany the mayor on the Trade Mission. It will help greatly with the potential for attracting investment into our shire," Cr Kevin Erwin said.
During the trip to China, Cr Rice and Mr Humphries will be visiting visit Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai. Trade discussions will be the key focus of the visit to Beijing.
Cr Rice said he looked forward to relaying back to the people of the Northern Grampians Shire and to his fellow councillors, his experiences following the trip.
"It will just be a great opportunity for us to get a foot in the door," he said.
"Some things may not come to fruition, but at least we are there, selling ourselves as a great investment opportunity and hopefully, we will see the benefits of that in the near future.
"At the very least, we will be pushing the message that we are open for business, we are open for investment."