HONG KONG -- Someone in Kansas City woke up this morning worried about water mains in this city halfway round the world.
Someone in a midtown office works on designs for a sports stadium in China. Down at Crown Center, an executive thinks about opening a new Hallmark store in Shanghai.
Mention you're from Kansas City in Hong Kong, a bustling business city of 7 million people, and you're likely to get a shrug or maybe a "Wizard of Oz" reference, but Kansas City-area companies play an increasingly significant, if unheralded, role in transforming the world's largest economy.
The Overland Park-based engineering firm Black & Veatch is creating China's 21st century infrastructure, building power plants on the mainland and replacing 600 miles of water pipes in Hong Kong.
The KC-based sports architecture firm Populous built swimming pools in Shenzhen, a massive sports park in Nanjing and a stadium in Hong Kong.
Overland Park-based YRC Worldwide ships millions of tons of goods through China every year.
Smaller companies are getting in on the action, too: Global Ground Support of Olathe now is China's largest supplier of airplane deicing equipment.
"It's a very competitive market over there and getting more competitive every day," said Bruce Turner, Global Ground Support's China expert. "If you want to stay competitive from a global standpoint, it's not a question of whether you're in China. You have to be there."
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