By CHET BROKAW
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) â¿¿ The president of a Rapid City-based company that makes products for power plants, mining operations and other industries said Tuesday that Gov. Dennis Daugaard's trade mission to China could pay off in a big way for his company and others in the state.
China is South Dakota's third-largest export market, but South Dakota still ranks last among the states in trade with the world's most populous nation, Daugaard said from Shanghai in a call with South Dakota news organizations.
Rob Mudge of RPM & Associates said he's holding 10 meetings with potential new customers during the trade mission led by Daugaard. China plans to build more than 400 coal-fired power plants in the next decade, using the latest clean-coal technology and scrubbers.
"That's my business. So for me, that turns into markets, and markets turn into jobs," Mudge said.
The Republican governor noted that South Dakotans were just "learning the ropes" a year ago when he led a trade mission that included just three businesses. The current trip includes 11 South Dakota companies and agricultural associations representing pork, corn and soybean producers. South Dakota can supply not only grain and meat, but also a variety of other products and services needed in China's rapidly growing economy, he said.
"We need to be more creative about looking for markets where we can find them and not just where we've always been finding them," Daugaard said.
The South Dakota businesses and state officials will have about 80 meetings with Chinese government agencies and businesses in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong before returning home at the end of the week, the governor said. State officials will check later to see how many contracts the South Dakota businesses eventually negotiate with China, he said.
The mission was partly funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.