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U.S. all cashed up and ready for Shanghai Expo

2009. 6 July

( At last it's official - the United States will sign a participation contract with the 2010 Shanghai World Expo organizer soon as enough money has been raised to build the American pavilion.

Exhibition plans were completed and the US government was right behind the initiative, the head of the American Expo organizer said.

The US was a definite Expo starter, said Ellen Eliasoph, co-chair of Shanghai Expo 2010 Inc, the non-profit company that is undertaking the funding, design, construction and operations of the proposed US pavilion.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are both "firmly supportive" of the US pavilion project, she said.

    The public visibility of Clinton's support had given a big boost to fund-raising efforts. The Obama administration regarded Expo as a golden opportunity "to launch the new face of America and show how we want to cooperate with the rest of the world," Eliasoph said.

Clinton's appointment of Jose Villarreal, a highly respected attorney and businessman from Texas as the US commissioner general to the Expo, was a sure sign that the US was "ready for the event," Eliasoph said.

Among the first tasks awaiting Villarreal were the signing of the participation and construction contracts, she said.

Construction of the US pavilion could begin any time as the US group had already raised more than 20 million U.S. dollars, the cost of erection of the pavilion building, she said, and had another 40 million U.S. dollars worth of contracts under negotiation.

The total 61 million U.S. dollars budget targeted for the US Expo showcase includes about 20 million U.S. dollars for the production of the pavilion's shows and promotions, with the rest for overall operations during the six-month Expo period.

Construction and fund-raising for the rest of budget would proceed simultaneously, Eliasoph said.

    Fund-raising had become easier as the eight sponsors so far were all leaders in their industries, she said. The commitments made by them had been a great incentive to other companies who want to join the Expo party.

The eight US sponsors are General Electric, PepsiCo, 3M, Dell, Yum!, Cargill, Golden Eagle and the USA-China Education, Science and Culture Association.

Several other leading companies have also agreed to sign on, and their names will be released soon.

Raising the required amount of money was only a matter of time, Eliasoph said.

The US plans to build a 5,600-square-meter pavilion, one of the largest at the Shanghai event, but funding is critical as US law prohibits the use of State Department money to pay for participation in World Expos.

The overall theme of the US pavilion is "Rise To The Challenge" and, in keeping with the "Better City, Better Life" theme of the Expo, the challenges depicted will be: creating environmentally sustainable communities, engaging in a healthy lifestyle and using technology to improve the lives of people from all walks of life.

The pavilion experience will have three chapters: the pre-show, the main show and the post show.

The pavilion will incorporate state-of-the-art audio-visual and special-effects technology.

The main show will be a dramatic multi-media experience allowing visitors to experience the American city of the future.

In this future city, visitors will meet a group of people who were inspired by the Shanghai Expo 20 years ago.

The climax of the multimedia show will be a musical celebration of the Expo.

An urban roof garden where US sustainable agriculture and organic food production techniques will be demonstrated, and a special section on "the success of the Chinese in America" are other features.

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