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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Toronto, Feb 6 (IANS) Wooing Bollywood tops the agenda of Dianne Watts, mayor of Canada's 'Indian city' of Surrey, when she begins her 11-day business mission to India Feb 10.

Watts said she will use her city's 'many connections to India, both socially and economically', to woo businesses and investors.

Surrey on the suburbs of Vancouver is the fastest growing city in Canada and home to the largest concentration of Indians, mostly Sikhs, in Canada. Indians account for almost 30 percent of the city's population of 465,000.

The mayor, who is bringing 40-odd business and political leaders with her, said Canada's most famous companies are accompanying her on the mission to India.

'We have some prominent companies in education, clean energy, wood and manufacturing, film, life sciences and information and communication technologies. Leading companies such as Westport Innovations, Ballard, Simon Fraser University, Nexterra and PowerTech are internationally regarded in their fields,' Watts told IANS.

She said her city picked up 'sectors which have roots in Surrey and strong growth potential - clean tech, education, financial services, wood and manufacturing, film, life sciences and information and communications technologies and sought out companies in India which are industry leaders and innovators in those sectors and began to match the Canadian company with the appropriate Indian companies'.

The mission is 'highly targeted and extremely aggressive but I believe it will yield results for companies in both countries,' the mayor said.

Watts said the mission will travel to many Indian cities and meet top leaders. 'We are visiting Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar and expect to hold over 100 meetings with company executives and government officials.'

Since Vancouver is world famous for its animation industry and film shootings, the mayor said she would woo Bollywood to come to her beautiful city.

'We see Surrey as a logical location for future Bollywood filming, and in particular I see great opportunity in the area of digital animation. I'm very pleased to have Richard Brownsey, president and CEO of British Columbia Film, on the mission to further that goal for our region.'

Though no agreements have been finalised yet, the mayor said she 'anticipates a number of announcements being made throughout the mission'.

Watts said her councillor Barinder Rasode, who has family ties to Punjab and is known for his work in the entertainment sector, will play an important role in their meetings in Bollywood.

Councillor Tom Gill, another Sikh with ties to Punjab, is also on the mayor's mission.