Bringing in the right mix of talent will be crucial for the expansion of the Xiongan New Area in North China’s Hebei province.
Since the area was designated an economic zone, State-owned enterprises, or SOEs, startups and institutions have expressed growing interest in moving there.
“The planned Xiongan New Area is of national significance and needs to bring in first-rate talent to start innovative business and construct the economic zone,” said Yuan Tongli, former Party chief of the preparatory committee of Xiongan.
The province has already attracted Beijing-based Peking University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in China.
The university plans to establish a first-class medical center in the new zone.
Training will be offered in the health sector, while educational resources will also be pumped into the region, according to details released at a meeting attended by bilateral officials recently.
“Talent should be the most important resource Xiongan should have from the very beginning of its development,” Xie Xiao’ou and Xie Qiushi wrote in a commentary in the Hebei Daily.
Peking University will work alongside relevant government departments in Baoding, Hebei province, to help develop public-private partnership projects in opening up the region.
The university’s famed Guanghua School of Management will set up a training center to bolster management studies and techniques.
“Peking University will provide talent support in the process of planning and building of Xiongan,” said Zhao Kezhi, Party chief of Hebei.
Xiongan New Area aims to attract a wide-range of businesses and institutions, involved in scientific research, financial operations, corporate headquarters and administrative agencies, a business blueprint for the region has revealed.
More than 30 central SOEs in the field of transportation and telecommunications are likely to pursue economic opportunities in Xiongan, according to a website for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the country’s top SOE regulator.
They include China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, one of the country’s two largest State-owned shipbuilders. CSIC has been relocating parts of its core businesses to Baoding.
Other SOEs moving there are China Telecommunications Corp, China Eastern Airlines, China National Machinery Industry Corp and China Energy Engineering Corp Ltd.
They have all held management meetings to discuss development plans in the new area.
“Once hospitals, branches of universities and scientific research institutions are established here and State-owned enterprises move into the area, they will attract a resourceful talent pool, as well as more workers to Xiongan,” said Nie Huihua, vice-president of the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China.
Cao Xiaolong is just the sort of entrepreneur Xiongan is looking for.
He is the manager of innovative startup company, Tianjin Techvan Technology Co Ltd, in neighboring Tianjin and would considers relocating to Xiongan.
“But my staff don’t want to go there yet because they worry about their daily lives,” said Cao. “They are concerned about public services in a new area at this early stage.
“Even if I abandon my old staff and go there alone, I don’t think I would be able to recruit the same level of talent I would need to keep the business going.”
His company is involved in research and development in industrial robots, and smart devices used in solar energy such as photovoltaic technology.
He employs eight staff and all are graduates from prestigious universities in Beijing and Tianjin.
Every one of his workers is keen to live in an environment with quality resources.
“My interest in moving to Xiongan has increased since universities such as Peking University and companies like China Shipping Industry Corporation have made the move to develop Xiongan,” Cao said.
With key universities moving in, major companies will follow. And then, once the infrastructure is in place to bring in the brightest and the best, Xiongan New Area is expected to take off as a major economic region.
“We will transfer some quality educational resources to Xiongan, especially those leading-edge disciplines,” said Hao Ping, Party chief at Peking University.
The institution already has a tremendous pool of talent and the planned medical center in the new zone will specialize in integrated teaching, scientific research and medical services.
It is this sort of massive transfer of expertise that is exciting local businesses.
Zhang Huan, who works in the wine industry in Baoding, was delighted to hear that Peking University will play a leading role in the Xiongan project. “I had always planned to pursue an on-the-job graduate course at a leading university after graduation in 2012,” said Zhang.
But until now she had struggled to find the right course and the right university in Baoding.
“Hopefully, I will get the opportunity this time to study at Peking University after it establishes branches in Xiongan, which is about 30 kilometers from Baoding,” said Zhang. “I am looking forward to that.”