Having earned the nickname 'China's Detroit', due to its history of heavy industrial production and vehicle manufacturing sector, Wuhan's association with the United States has more to it than a simple moniker. Fortune 500 companies, along with a coterie of small and medium enterprises are exploring central China's business opportunities as part of the American Chamber of Commerce's (AmCham) chapter in Wuhan. In a white paper published in 2009 by AmCham, Wuhan was listed as the only city in central China recommended as a major investment destination. Janie Corum, chairwoman of the executive committee of AmCham's Wuhan chapter, elaborates on the reasons why Wuhan is the go-to destination for investment in central China. 'Wuhan is experiencing rapid growth,' she says. 'City officials are interested in attracting foreign investment and very supportive of foreign companies that choose to locate here. Wuhan has excellent universities that contribute to an abundant local talent pool.' Wuhan has been busy positioning itself as one of the most progressive business cities in Asia. Combining old-school industries, such as vehicle manufacturing, and hi-tech industries, such as fibre optics, electronics and pharmaceutical companies engaging in research and development, the region's strategic mix of businesses is likely to secure continuing business. 'As the largest city and transport hub of central China, Wuhan plays a vital role in the region's economic development. The city has made significant progress in developing its port, as well as improving its air, road and rail infrastructure,' Corum says. For now, a substantial amount of foreign direct investment in Wuhan comes from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and these investments are focused largely in low-skilled, labour-intensive industries. 'However, US investments in the area are rising,' Corum says. 'To encourage further investment, AmCham-China has encouraged the local government to promote the founding of more international-quality schools and hospitals and to strengthen environmental regulations.' But the challenges are worth overcoming, according to Corum. 'I would encourage outside investors to consider joining our local chapter of AmCham-China - it's a great way to meet like-minded businesspeople and get a hands-on feel for what's happening on the ground here,' she says. 'The more you're able to meet people and network, the better prepared you'll be to cope with the challenges of business in a very fast-growing market.'