Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland’s next trade mission will take her to Vietnam and China in a new attempt to court investors for development projects in the city.
She will leave Thursday with city Community and Economic Development director Ricardo Noguera and two other staff members on a 10-day swing through the countries.
They’re planning to meet with investors who have pledged money for Tacoma projects as well as with people who have expressed interest in putting money into new endeavors, Noguera said.
“This is really about cultivating investors,” Strickland said Monday, by giving updates to people who have committed to projects as well as establishing new relationships.
The trip will be Strickland’s third trade mission to Asia since 2011.
It follows a 2014 mission to China that Noguera said nurtured investments worth $275 million for the city.
One foreign-funded project would develop a vacant lot near the University of Washington Tacoma, a project worth about $125 million; the other is $150 million downtown hotel project designed to include two 24-story towers.
Noguera said the previous trip “put Tacoma on the map in Asia as a place to invest.”
They are scheduled to stop in Hanoi to meet with Vietnamese investors who recently considered buying the historic Washington Building in the 1000 block of Pacific Avenue.
The city group has three stops in China: Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.
Noguera said the trip is designed to put the city officials in contact with Chinese and Vietnamese who want a quick path to U.S. residency through the EB-5 visa program.
The program generally requires foreign investors to commit at least $500,000 toward a job-producing endeavor in the United States.
They’ll also meet with institutional investors, such as banks.
“We have a pretty aggressive schedule,” Strickland said.
The budget for the city-funded trip is expected to come in around $20,000, Noguera said.
In 2011, Strickland tried to limit the city’s expenses on a similar trip by allowing a Lakewood businessman to pay for her airfare with airline miles.
A complaint to the city ethics board alleged that was an illegal gift, which led to a reprimand and prompted Strickland to reimburse the businessman for the ticket.