Throughout China: Younger entrepreneurs invigorate historical metropolis

FUZHOU, March 9 (Xinhua) — Youth-led startups in cultural and creative industries are adding new vitality to economic development in Quanzhou, a city which is more than 1,700 years old and has been a crucial hub of global maritime commerce for centuries.

In an active commercial area in urban Quanzhou, Fujian Province, one can hardly imagine a finely refurbished cluster of buildings — accommodating more than 6,000 young people with creative ideas — were once deserted plants built in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It was like an area totally forgotten by the city that was developing so well,” Zhang Shunan, one of the developers, recalled his amazement when he encountered the industrial heritage with some friends ten years ago. “We wanted to add value to it in the city’s economic growth process.”

With support from the local government, Zhang and his two friends led a group of young people to transform the space into a cultural and creative industrial park, known as Live SHOW Wonderland.

“Quanzhou has a strong base in the manufacturing industry, with many national brands and listed enterprises. But youth-led startups in the service industry have not sufficiently matched the city’s development,” said Zhang.

“We see this gap as an opportunity,” he said. “We want to gather them to play a role in the city’s industrial development.”

Zhang and his team founded Live Show Culture & Tourism Development Group, to take charge of the park’s management.

“We provide them with various support and services, such as helping enterprises deal with the government and other industries, and organize seminars and forums on entrepreneurship and creative industries,” said Wu Fong-yu, general manager of Live SHOW Wonderland.

Many startups draw inspiration from Quanzhou’s history and culture and provide services to enhance the city’s charm.

Quanzhou Film and Picture Center in the park is equipped with advanced studios and technologies to integrate the city’s images, catering to governmental and corporate needs to produce promotional videos.

“Quanzhou is a city of entrepreneurship,” said Wu, who was encouraged by the spirit of young urbanites. “Young people here act fast and have a strong will to cooperate.”

Yang Shufen, an illustrator who had been working for companies since she graduated, finally has her own studio and a chance to realize her dream.

“I’ve always wanted to integrate my paintings with local cultural elements into gadgets for daily use,” she said with a smile, hands softly stroking colorful silk scarves hanging in the studio. “Quanzhou embraces open ideas and has a long tradition of business engagement. Young people are brave enough to explore new things, but their minds are deeply attached to their hometown.”

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