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S.A. days set at China expo
2010. 27 January
by David Hendricks
(mysanantonio.com) San Antonio is scheduled to be one of a handful of U.S. cities that will have “days” set aside to showcase their companies, urban plans and culture to millions of visitors to the Shanghai Expo 2010 world's fair.
“San Antonio Days” are tentatively set for May 25, 26 and 27, with additional days of exhibits and video presentations on the large U.S. Pavilion video board between May 23 and June 5, City Councilwoman Elisa Chan said.
San Antonio can lock in those days if it fulfills the city's $500,000 commitment to help pay for the U.S. Pavilion, Chan explained. The money will be raised exclusively from the private sector with a campaign set to kick off on Feb. 5, she said.
The fundraising effort will be aimed primarily at companies that do business with China or want to expand to China, Chan said.
No money has been committed yet, but Port San Antonio this week said it was interested in becoming a lead sponsor, said Chan, who with former Mayor Henry Cisneros is chairing the city's Expo steering committee. There are three sponsorship levels: $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000.
H-E-B, which imports 4,000 containers of Chinese-made goods a year, also has expressed an interest in participating in San Antonio Days.
CPS Energy also has expressed an interest in participating to showcase its renewable energy program. Other companies that have agreed to meetings with city officials include Kinetic Concepts Inc., Rackspace Hosting Inc. and NuStar Energy LP, Chan said.
During the three San Antonio Days on May 25-27, a city delegation will have full use of the U.S. Pavilion, including holding events and parties in the VIP lounges, she said. Mayor Julián Castro is planning to lead a city delegation for those days, which will be open to participation from the public, Chan explained.
“We intend for San Antonio Days to be very business-focused,” Chan said. “We're competing globally. We need to try to find an opportunity to become involved in all those economic opportunities taking place in China.”
The Chinese population is widely aware of Texas, especially Houston, because of Houston Rockets player Yao Ming. But San Antonio isn't widely known, Chan said.
“We need to bring that awareness. The Expo will have great import to give opportunities geographically to San Antonio companies,” she said.
City funds will be used mainly to generate an economic development video that also can be used at other events, Chan said.
Between 70 million and 100 million people, with more than 10 million from outside China, are expected to visit the fair's run from May 1 to Oct. 31.
The attendance would make the Shanghai Expo the largest event in human history, San Antonio lawyer Jose Villarreal said last year after he was appointed U.S. commissioner general to the event by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Other cities that will participate with special days at the U.S. Pavilion are Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.
“Discussions are under way with New York as well,” Villarreal said Tuesday by e-mail.
The state of Texas will have two weeks for Expo exhibits and video presentations, June 13-19 and Sept. 25-Oct. 2, Chan said. The days Texas will have full use of the U.S. Pavilion haven't been scheduled.
The Youth Orchestra of San Antonio plans to perform at the Shanghai Expo during one of the Texas weeks in an effort that's separate from San Antonio Days, Chan said.
Other than Texas, only Hawaii will have state showcase days at the U.S. Pavilion at this time.
“We are talking to Georgia,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal, a senior adviser with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, will live in Shanghai during the fair's six-month run. On Jan. 1, Villarreal rode on a float promoting the U.S. Pavilion during the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
The U.S. cities and states participating at the fair will celebrate their days at the $61 million, 60,000-square-foot U.S. Pavilion being funded by U.S. corporations and other private donors.
The U.S. Pavilion is expected to be the second most-visited fair site after the Chinese Pavilion. By law, the U.S. government can't appropriate public funds for the U.S. Pavilion.
To date, 185 countries and 46 international organizations have accepted invitations to participate in Shanghai Expo. The expo theme, “Better City — Better Life,” will focus on environmentally friendly urban development. Covering more than 1,200 acres, the fair site is situated in downtown Shanghai on both sides of the Huangpu River.
Expo attendance is expected to average more than 400,000 a day, with a limit of 600,000 per day. As of December, more than 12 million tickets have been purchased. More than 600,000 of the foreign visitors are expected to come from North America.
The U.S. Pavilion will share a performing arts space with the adjacent pavilions of Brazil, Peru and Colombia.Source: www.mysanantonio.com