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Zhangjiagang has a technology hub dream


Zhangjiagang is rolling out an ambitious plan to become a major technology hub, riding on its economic success amid the country's rapid industrialization and urbanization.

The county-level city in Jiangsu province is aiming to attract skilled domestic and overseas talent to maintain that growth in a sustainable way.

"Silicon Valley is a forest for talent and Zhangjiagang can similarly be the woods for that talent," said Yao Linrong, Party chief of Zhangjiagang.

In 2013, local authorities invested 170 million yuan ($27 million) in projects to lure hundreds of top professionals, according to the Zhangjiagang talent acquisition office.

"Talent brings projects," Yao said, adding that these projects in turn bring business opportunities and industrial upgrades.

Yao said Zhangjiagang also aims to become a "second home" for top creative professionals, offering a comfortable living and business environment.

The port city received a UN Habitat Scroll of Honor Award in 2008.

The latest focus on attracting highly skilled staff is drawing many Chinese professionals overseas to return to the city.

Zhou Bing left a national-level semiconductor laboratory in Australia three years ago and teamed up with Junma Group, a company in Zhangjiagang, to set up Everpower Semiconductor Co. Zhou is among the top professionals who were shortlisted by Zhangjiagang in 2011.

Xue Songsheng, another professional involved in the top talent program, launched his own firm - Jiangsu Multi-Dimension - in 2010, which is now recognized as one of the world's pioneering producers of highly effective, low-cost magnetic sensors.

"These professionals help us to maintain economic growth by reducing our reliance on traditional industries and increasing our innovation in emerging industries," Yao said.

After an in-depth survey of about 300 large-scale enterprises three years ago, the government carried out a series of strategic plans and identified five vital sectors, comprising of a smart grid, biopharmaceuticals, new information technology, environment monitoring and clean energy vehicle fields.

According to a government report released in February, the output of the emerging industries reached nearly 197 billion yuan, about 40 percent of the city's total industrial output. By 2015, it is expected to account for half of output.

As emerging industries boom, the need for skilled people is surging and attracting them to the city is a top priority for the government.

Of Zhangjiagang's 3,000 graduates every year, about 90 percent choose to stay in the city, Yao said.

"But some specialized skills still need to be imported," he said.

Satoshi Hamamoto, vice-president and director of Nachi (Jiangsu) Industries Co Ltd, which makes precision cutting tools, hydraulic equipment, industrial robots and automotive solenoids, said that attracting and retaining skilled professionals are big challenges for the city.



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