Chester County businesses, officials heading to China

xtussy via / CC BY-NC Beijing.

Chester County government and business leaders are set to send their largest delegation ever to China, to open doors for local companies to explore business opportunities.

The trip is also designed to identify possible Chinese investors for projects in the county, according to Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell. Farrell made two previous trips to China in 2014 to foster ties with Chinese officials and business leaders.

Eight members of the Chester County delegation are scheduled to make the trip this month. Previously, four members took part.


“Further developing relationships between China and Chester County bring lasting benefits to both the businesses and residents of our community,” noted Michael Grigalonis, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the Chester County Economic Development Council, which also took part in one of the 2014 trips to China. “We’re also focused on collaborating with educational institutions. West Chester University has a number of graduate students from China and a third of the students in the higher grades at Valley Forge Military Academy are from China.”

West Chester University graduate student Jingjing Lin who is from China is making the trip with the county delegation and will be one of two bilingual persons on the tour. The tour begins on May 16 and concludes on May 27.

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia representatives will meet in China with the delegation from Chester County, and one joint initiative with the City will be to establish a Philadelphia Regional Center to help area companies to gain a toehold or to expand in China.

An increasing number of tourists from China visit Chester County and Susan Hamley, executive director of the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau will be part of the county delegation to promote county tourism.

Michael DeThomas of Levante Brewing Company of West Chester will be exploring opportunities to bring Levante beers to China, according to Farrell. County business leaders also taking part in the trip are Chad Byers of Symmetrical Investments, LLC; Jason Zhu of Eternity International Trading Co., Inc.; and Janice Kelsey of Solar CITIES, Inc.

Prior trips have been successful and have helped some local businesses to gain work in China, according to Grigalonis. Genesis Health Care, Vanguard, Bentley Systems and others are already in the process of working there. Also, Chris Alonzo, President of Pietro Mushrooms, is on the verge of signing an agreement with Chinese entrepreneurs interested in building a state of the art mushroom production facility in a province located near Shanghai.

“Our networking has been very successful,” Farrell said. “For example, Roger Huggins, a West Chester attorney on the board of the Chester County Economic Development Council, introduced us to an attorney he met at the Union League in Philadelphia who is affiliated with a Chinese law firm. That connection led to Chris’s opportunity. Our Chinese network is growing, and this trip will enhance that growth.”

The day before the trip begins, a Chinese trade representative will tour Chester County and members of the local delegation may also have an opportunity to meet with the trade representative, according to Farrell.

For more information about the Chester County China Initiative, including how to get involved, contact Commissioner Farrell at or Mike Grigalonis at

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