Economic activities and industrial development are the life pulse to a city's survival. They not only affect the city's growth, but also are closely related to its character. In the last few years, Taiwan's industries have experienced a lot of challenges due to structural changes and the effects of internationalization and liberalization. As the hub of central Taiwan's economic development, Taichung is in an influential position when it comes to the region's economy, not to mention Taiwan's industries as a whole.
Central Taiwan Science Park's development has magnetic effects
In the last three years, the biggest Taichung city industrial-related development to grab the public's attention has been the establishment of the Central Taiwan Science-Based Industrial Park. Its development has not only generated the growth of surrounding industries, but has also helped spur the development of northern, central and southern Taiwan. When the Central Taiwan Science-Based Industrial Park was still in its planning and developmental stages, many have wondered whether the Central Science Park would have a market when the Southern Science Park has not yet reached its saturation point. Today’s facts have proved that the active pursuit of the development of the Central Science Park was a correct move. The Science Park will create 50,000 more job opportunities in the future, as well as advance the development of midstream and downstream industries. It has also been a big aid to industrial advancement and the attracting of financial investment and new technologies to the area. Most of the Science Park’s basic facilities are now under construction, and it is expected that most facilities will be completed by the end of December in 2006.
In recent years, Taichung city has attracted quite a lot of investment. It is expected that the Central Taiwan Science-Based Industrial Park will attract a growing number of industries to relocate their operations headquarters to central Taiwan, thus bringing even more investment opportunities. Taichung's economy is growing rapidly and, when the Taiwan High-Speed Railroad commences its services, there will be even more development potential. Many international investment groups have already set their sights on Taichung city and have come on exploration tours. Due to the effects of the Science Park development, Taichung city must make it a goal to increase its competitiveness as a city, and put more effort into developing the special characters of Taichung city, improving its international visibility, and marketing the city to the world, in order to rapidly attract more foreign investment. With Taichung's excellent yet competitive living standards, its good climate and amalgamation of human and cultural resources, the city is a great destination for commercial investment.
Taichung Industrial Zone goes through changes
If the Central Taiwan Science-Based Industrial Park can be compared to the city's brilliant rainbow, then Taichung's Industrial Zone is like a beautiful rose and shouldn't be ignored, either. The Industrial Zone is situated near the Science Park and has been experiencing steady increases in industrial research and productivity. Many companies there have gradually moved from traditional to high-tech industries in order to provide services for the nearby Science Park. This in turn has also helped attract other industries into the zone.
The city government values the importance of the Taichung Industrial Zone as much as the Central Taiwan Science-Based Industrial Park. Since Mayor Jason Hu came into office, he has been holding discussion meetings with industry representatives every three months. He listens to their opinions on developments within the area as well as government policies, and assists them with solving problems. Since 2003, the city government has also assisted the Taichung City Industrial Promotional Association and Service Center to hold the "Taichung Industrial Zone Carnival". This provides an opportunity for people to walk into the industrial zone and gain more understanding of its development and other activities. At the same time, participating industries also held sales at the carnival, allowing visitors to purchase cheap products. As a result, companies were able to create more commercial opportunities and advertise, while the industrial zone boosted its image in a win-win situation.
The future of Taichung's industrial development looks promising. The ratio of employees in commercial and service industries is up to 72 percent of the total employment population, making these sectors Taichung's key industries. With the new demands that come with Taichung's increasing importance as a metropolis directly linked to cross-Straits communications, plus the globalization of industries, it is vital that commercial and service industries become more international, multi-faceted and liberal.
Taichung's interesting commercial districts gain fame near and far
Under the careful management of shop owners, many streets in Taichung have slowly become business districts with boosted popularity, as well as famous attractions for visitors. Every commercial district in Taichung has its own unique characteristics. For example, the Art Museum Parkway has restaurants, TianJin Street has fashion, DianZhi Street is filled with computer components and other related equipment, and YiZhong Street is the place to go for snacks and food. The city government has spent two years organizing these eight major commercial districts and promoting them according to their individual characters. Last year saw the first "Taichung Shopping Festival", creating the image of Taichung as a great open shopper's paradise. More creative theme-related activities have been planned for the future to draw consumers and maintain the vitality of these commercial districts. Other potential special districts will also be given assistance and advice to help them join this group. Despite a previous cloud of economic decline and the attack of SARS, during which almost every industry and business was affected over the past few years, Taichung city's economy can be said to be the first to re-awaken.
Specialized Farming Increases Competitiveness
Taichung city's commercial activities have become increasingly vibrant and, thanks to its convenient transportation system, many commercial exhibitions are choosing Taichung as a venue these days. Regular annual shows include the Information Technology Month, the International Automobile Exhibition, the Automated Industries Exhibition, the Computers and Multi Media Exhibition, the International Tourism Exhibition and others. Since the Taichung World Trade Center is proving to be undersized for this development, the city government has already allocated the original ChaoMa Transportation Hub as the location for a new Taichung International Exhibition Center. Architectural designs and city planning evaluations are now in progress. Construction began in June 2005, and is expected to be completed and ready for use in two years’ time. The Taichung International Convention Center project has been nominated at the Executive Yuan’s Public Work’s Engineering Committee’s 3rd Public Involvement Facility Award, and was given excellent recognition. It is the first time that a local government department received an award as such in the entire country, and it demonstrates the encouragement given by the city government, and the recognition that has been received for publicly involved building projects.
Taichung's industrial, commercial and service industries are all very well developed and the city can be considered a consumer hub. Although the local agricultural industry is small, it does have its special characteristics. Under the guidance and promotion of the city government and the Taichung Agricultural Association, there has been a move towards the development of more specialized farming and recreational farming, releasing Taiwan from the pressures of joining the WTO. At the moment, the DaKeng Scenic Area is producing oranges, bamboo shoots, WenXin orchids and water-cultivated vegetables. The XiTun district is seeing the cultivation of miniature roses, orchid nurseries and organic gardens. On Dadu Mountain, farmers are producing sweet potatoes, peanuts and sesame, and there is also a goats' milk farm.
These places all produce Taichung's famous agricultural products and make great weekend destinations. Such efforts not only help improve the agricultural sector's competitiveness and create job opportunities, but also increase profits for the farming community. Last year, the Economics Affairs Bureau published a “Handbook on Taichung’s Recreational Farming”, collecting information from nearly 30 recreational farms in Taichung city, as well as the Farmers’ Association’s ten sales class related to vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, rice and other farming products. The handbook introduces in detail all the special characteristics, creative concepts, transportation routes, restaurant and accommodation information, as well as scenic spots to give suggested travel packages to those areas. While we pursue industrial and commercial development, we must not forget agricultural industries' previous contributions to industrial development. We should take resources from the success of industrial and commercial developments and allocate them to Taichung's small but beautiful agricultural industries, for it is only through the successful development of all industries that Taichung city will reach its target of becoming a "Cultural, Economic and International City".