History was made at Nevada's Capitol on Thursday morning as four Chinese companies signed articles of incorporation at Secretary of State Dean Heller's office.
The companies will deal primarily with international trading.
Drawn in part by U.S. economic might, the Chinese want the future to include trade between the two countries, business partnerships and investment in the United States.
Some of the delegates also are interested in a large technology park to make computers and software.
Dressed in dark business suits and representing both government and business interests, the delegates talked quietly of their mission and the future.
One of the primary obstacles is lack of understanding, said Ji Xiang Qi, president and general manager of Shandong Commercial Group Corp. and manager of Shandong World Trade Center.
"China is developing rapidly. We recently entered the World Trade Organization and need to know more about the United States. That is why we are here," he said with an easy smile.
Now president of a large, privately owned Chinese company, he managed the same firm when it was owned by the government.
The transition has taken about 15 years, but dramatic economic changes are taking place in China, said Dr. William Tao, chairman of the board for Nevada Hospitality International Inc. His company is one of the hosts for the tour.
He said many other Chinese government agencies are becoming private companies. The transition is even more dramatic after political changes, primarily a change in administration just 60 days ago.
"Their policy is more global," Tao said. "They now belong to the World Trade Organization and they're hosting the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008. This is big for China."
The 10-member delegation came from the Shandong province in northeast China and is the first of its kind to visit Nevada, Tao said. More tours are scheduled as part of the China Nevada Business Alliance Program. At least one group is expected every two to three weeks over the coming year, Tao said.
Lance Gilman, developer and part-owner of Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, will be hosting tours for the group later this week. The delegation will be touring the center in northern Storey County in addition to South Meadows Business Park in Reno.
Gilman said he's been contacted by a number of Chinese firms interested in establishing businesses here, but this group is the largest.
The lack of corporate or inventory tax and a corporate structure that's business-friendly are just a few of the perks in Nevada, said Olivia Tearnan, president of Nevada Hospitality International.
"Nevada has a small, friendly government, over 300 days of sunshine and low real estate costs," she said. "Most overseas interests have heard about Las Vegas, but not Reno. Once they hear what we have to offer, they're amazed. They see this as a great opportunity for investment and incorporating."
Heller said Nevada always has done well economically, even during tough economic times.
Nevada incorporates about 53,000 companies annually and those numbers are growing, while states like Delaware, Texas, Florida and New York have experienced as much as a 25 percent downturn, Heller said.
"We've always dealt with international corporations and businesses," he said. "We're pleased to have this group with us."