By Mike Dunn

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Nutter is leading a delegation of local civic and business leaders on a week-long trip to China starting today.

Mayor Nutter and 11 others are leaving later today for seven days in China, including stops in Beijing and Philadelphia’s sister city Tianjin. Among those traveling with the mayor is Merritt Cooke, chairman of the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia, who says being there is important for economic development:

“Decision making in China can happen quickly, and it happens at a very large scale that can benefit our region and our economy,” Cooke said. “But nothing happens unless you show up and show interest.”

Also going are representatives of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Fox Chase Cancer Center and Drexel University. Nutter planned the trip after he was invited to speak in Beijing to a conference on urban sustainability.

The 12-member delegation includes four other city officials besides Nutter. Among them is the CEO of the airport, Mark Gale, who plans to discuss with airline officials there the idea of direct flights to Philadelphia.

The mayor’s spokesman, Mark McDonald, says the cost to taxpayers for the five city officials who are traveling is estimated at between $8,500 and $9,000 total, covering airfare and accommodations.