by Peter Freyne
It was 9:05 a.m. in Waterbury, but 9:05 p.m. in Shanghai, China and WDEV Talk Show Host Mark Johnson sounded like a pumped-up morning guy as he spoke to his Vermont audience from the balcony of the Broadway Mansion Hotel.
Mark went along with the Vermont business delegation sponsored by the State Chamber. A 14-hour flight from Chicago, he said. Over the North Pole. Four movies.
Vermont's GOP Gov. Jim Douglas, he said, traveled via Arizona to San Francisco to Tokyo to Shanghai.
The radio talk-show host, got the balcony room, he told Eric Michaels at Radio Vermont back in Waterbury, because the electricity went out in his original hotel room. He'd come back from dinner via taxi. "I ate jellyfish!" he said. "I went into my room and couldn’t get the lights on." He went down to the front desk to seek help.
"Theywere mortified," Johnson told his listeners, "profusely embararrassed. They made sure they put me in areally nice room."
Now he was looking out from the balcony on a panorama he described as that of "a city of 20 million - the world's largest" - that he described as "a sea of neon."
[Turns out it may not be the largest. InfoPlease says Bombay's the "largest city." Tokyo appears the "largest metropolitan area."]
The highlight of the day, said Mark, was a formal meeting between Gov. Douglas and the Vermont delegation and the Mayor of Shanghai. "There was a Chinese TV station there filming it," he said.
The first state chamber to set up an office in China was Maryland. "They set the gold-standard of how you do this," said Johnson. Vermont set up its office in 1993 and that gives us an advantage. A Vermont firm recently won a China contract, even though its bid was 30 percent higher, he said. "It's all about who you know."
Looking out from the Shanghai Hotel balcony, said Johnson, he spotted a promenade that reminded him of the Burlington Waterfront.
"It's a small world after all," said Mark.