HBE Officials Given VIP Treatment
Hollywood Foodcourt Progresses
Investment and Business Activities
An Amazing Anniversary

HBE Officials Given VIP Treatment

Wearing two hats as officials of  TJI International and HBE, President Larry Horist, Vice President Jill Horist and Executive Assistant Xiong Her traveled to Harbin at the end of April with several missions in mind: (1) to engage in planning future operations of HBE (which TJI International manages), (2)  participate in the official opening ceremonies for the new Wanda Mall in the heart of Harbin, and (3) participate in meetings involving specific investment opportunities.   In addition to HBE, TJI-I is involved in a joint venture partnership with Brown's Chicken & Pasta to establish a Hollywood-theme American-style restaurant next to a new movie theater in the new mall. 

The mall is among the largest in northeast China, and is anchored by Wal-Mart, Parkson (China's major department store chain) and Warner Bros. 8-screen movie theater.  Though this was the official opening, Wal-Mart and Warner Bros. have been operating.  Early indications suggest that the Wanda Mall will be an enormous success.  Already, Warner Bros. revenues at the mall are greater than all the movie theater operations in Harbin combined, and is already the 12th highest grossing movie theater in China.  The future success is seen in the massive crowds that visit the area each day.

Mayor Shi Zhong Xin  presided over the ceremonies, which included a host of government and business dignitaries.  The TJI-I officials joined Mr. Ira Stiegler, of Warner Bros., Mr. Ben Cornish, Vice President (China) for Wal-Mart, and Mr. Low Kim Tuan, Chief Operating Officer-Northern China for Parkson as honored guests.

Larry Horist (left) joins Mayor Shi (right) and other officials for the tour of the new mall. Jill Horist has a discussion with Mayor Shi following the tour. Horist helps cut ribbon for official opening.

In place for opening ceremonies are (from left) Larry Horist, Vice Secretary General Gao Ying Xiang, Ira Stiegler, of Warner Bros. and Mayor Shi.  TJI-I's Hollywood Food Court sign had a place of prominence behind Mayor Shi. Crowds gathering in Flood Monument Plaza for the opening suggest great success for the Wanda mall.
 
Hollywood Foodcourt Progresses
In addition to the festive mall opening, the TJI-I team had a number of important activities relating to plans for the Hollywood Food Court.  First was the signing of the Cooperative Intention Agreement with Mr. Ding Yao, of the Wanda company; and the presentation of the initial 157,000 RMB (Approximately $20,000 USD).  The group also interviewed several architectural firms.  A government affairs adviser, Mr. Xie Yi Ying, was retained to assist in getting through the Chinese regulatory procedures for a new enterprise.  Mr. Xie is a former Harbin judge and law professor.  A prospective food service manager, Mr. Yu (Gino) Yang, was interviewed.  Mr. Yu has had more than 5 years experience in opening and operating food establishments.  The group looked for living quarters for future visits, and to serve as a guest residence for associates. One of the most dramatic is an historic city-owned Russian cottage on the shore of the Songhua River, within walking distance of the mall.  They also had time to visit potential vendors for equipment supplies and food products.

 

Larry (right) signs the Cooperative Intention Agreement with Ding Yao, of the Wanda company, as Jill observes. Former Judge Xie Ying Yi will handle regulatory and tax matters for the new restaurant. Yu (Gino)Yang is slated to take on restaurant management.

Early 20th Century Russian Cottage.  

Future guest house for TJI International???

 
Investment and Business Activities

Keeping up a hectic schedule, the TJI-I contingent carried out a number of other business activities.  One of the more important meetings was with Mr. Li Wei, the newly appointed Vice Director of the Harbin Economic and Cooperative Promotion Bureau (HECPB), formerly the Harbin Foreign Investment and Administration Bureau (HFIAB).  The purpose of the meeting was the renewal of the TJI-I agreement to operate HBE as an official representative of Harbin in the United States. Both parties agreed that the HBE should continue with the cooperation and support of HECPB.

As is often their happy custom, the Horists enjoyed the company of Mrs. Xie Yingmei, of the Party Consultancy.  She was involved in the hosting and planning of several of the festive dinners for the HBE visitors.

Staying at the Songhuajiang Plaza Hotel was not only a luxurious pleasure, it involved a great business opportunity.  Mrs. Wang Guilan, owner of the hotel, is seeking a U.S. partner.  The 84-room luxury boutique hotel was built last year, and enjoys the most prominent location on Flood Monument Plaza.  Mrs. Wang, a good friend of the Horists, hosted several banquets for the HBE/TJI-I contingent.

Larry, David and Xiong hosted lunch for Mr. Wang, and long-time friend who was recently promoted from the Municipal Promotion and Reform Commission to the provincial-level commission.  They discussed many investment projects, including power plants, water treatment and monorail transportation.

In meetings with Mrs. Sun Yun Lah, the group was updated regarding the progress of her nationwide cosmetics company.  She also hosted several dinners, one with a group of Harbin dignitaries who visited Chicago in 2000.

Mr. Zhang Yi Fei, new Assistant Director of the Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone, hosted a dinner for the Horist party in order to introduce Mr. Michael Whelton, who recently moved to Harbin to oversee operations of the new McCain food processing facility.  Also attending were HBE's old friends, Mr. Ji Ping and Mrs. Xia Ren Wen (Ronnie).

 

Former Mayor Wang hosted a fabulous feast.  It was more of a meeting of good friends than an official function. Larry, Xiong, Mayor Wang, Jill and Hu Yong Chang reflect the warm feelings. A little "ganbei" between Jill and Mrs. Xie (cautiously sticking to milk).
Xiong (left), Mr. Li, of HECPB, and Larry conclude a successful meeting with a traditional photo. The Harbin Development Zone dinner (from left) Xia Ren Wen, Larry, Zhang Yi Fei, Mrs. Whelton, Jill, Michael Whelton, Xiong, and Ji Ping.
 
An Amazing Anniversary
There was a personal side to the visit.  When it was discovered the Horists would be spending their 13th wedding anniversary in Harbin, their many friends organized a round of parties, and provided bouquets, cakes and gifts.  Jill said it was more like a wedding than an anniversary.  No one will accuse the HBE crew of being "all work and no fun."  Who said 13 is unlucky?

The anniversary was an ongoing party. The morning started with more than 150 roses, gifts and a note to Jill from Larry, Xiong and David.

 

At lunch Larry and Jill receive a special gift from Mr. Hu. A celebration toast with Mayor Wang ...
and another with Mrs. Xie.
Wang Guilan, provided flowers, fruit and a cake in the room. The evening started off with a party in the home of Chu Ji Hua (Athena) with Mrs. Sun co-hosting, and yet another cake. Xiong helped Athena's dad cook the evening meal, including some American dishes. Mrs. Sun treated the celebrants and friends to an evening of karaoke singing and dancing.
Mrs. Sun also gifted the couple with a visit to her Meijiana Salon. Mrs. Sun treated the celebrants and friends to an evening of karaoke singing and dancing. Another evening had the revelers toasting at the Log Cabin, where bartenders serve up amazing tricks with the libations.
 

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