By JULIET WILLIAMS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) â¿¿ California Gov. Jerry Brown has designs on building some of the most expensive public works projects in the nation and wants to keep the state moving forward in its slow recovery from the recession.
Where better to go searching for the money to further those interests than the world's second largest economy and a country that has piles of cash to invest around the globe?
The governor of the most populous U.S. state heads to China next week to begin a weeklong trade mission that he hopes will produce investments on both sides of the Pacific. Brown will lead a delegation of business leaders in search of what he calls "plenty of billions."
"They've got $400 billion or $500 billion they're going to invest abroad, so California's got to get a piece of that," Brown said in an interview last week ahead of his seven-day trip to China.
The governor and business leaders accompanying him are trying to rebuild the state's official relationship with China after the state closed its two trade offices and others around the world a decade ago in a cost-cutting move. California finds itself playing catch-up to other states that have had a vigorous presence in China for years.
California, which would be the world's ninth largest economy if it were a separate country, will open a trade office in Shanghai during Brown's visit. The Bay Area Council, a coalition of business interests from the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, is raising about $1 million a year in private money to operate it.
"California shouldn't be the only state in the union not to have a presence with key foreign trading partners like China," said Jim Wunderman, president of the group.
The council opened its own office in Shanghai in 2010 to fill the void after the closure of the trade offices. Bruce Pickering, executive director of the Northern California office of the Asia Society, called the 2003 decision "penny wise but pound foolish."