Ohio Asian American Economic Summit
On Tuesday, November 14th, we spent most of the day at the "Ohio Asian American Economic Summit" at the "Ariel International Center" which sponsored the event along with "Margaret W. Wong & Associates".
As Ms. Margaret W. Wong, who was also there intermittently, surmised, only Ms. Radhika Reddy, Partner at "Ariel Ventures, LLC" of the could have organized an event like this considering the number of attendees that turned out and the prominent speakers who gave of their time to share knowledge about trade issues with us.
Ms. Reddy, who immigrated here from India years ago with virtually no assets, was very happy with the results as was Mr. Tom Brown, Executive Director of the "Lorain Port Authority" who is looking forward to working with her on a project in Lorain.
Regarding Ms. Reddy, Mr. Joe Cimperman, the President of "Global Cleveland" recalled a time when, as a boy, he and his friends used to through stones at the sides of an old, rundown, dilapidated building which Ms. Reddy miraculously transformed into the "Ariel International Center" and he has nothing but admiration and respect for her accomplishment which he once thought was unachievable.
We, ourselves, enjoyed sharing a table with Mr. Koussa as well as both Mr. Chiranjiv Zutshi, CIO with "CTL Engineering"; and Mr. Jiunn-Der Wu, Ph.D., Chairman of the "East-West International Group, Inc." who have been friends with Ms. Wong for many years now.
It was also good to network (one of the main goals of the summit) and either meet or renew acquaintances with such people as Mr. Ralph Inforzato, Chief Executive Director of the "Japan External Trade Organization" (JETRO); Mr. Lianzhong Pan of "Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff"; Mr. Le Cong Tien, Counselor/Head of Economic Section from the Embassy of Vietnam; and Mr. Michael Yap, Chief Investment Officer of the International Investments division of "Prudential" who gave well-researched presentations on trading with Japan, China,
Vietnam, and Singapore respectively.
All told, the program contained four panel discussions each lasting 75 minutes concerning an "Overview of Doing Business in various Asian Countries", "Legal and Tax Issues for Doing Business in Asian Countries"; "Export/Import Trade & Finance with Asian Countries"; and "Asian Businesses in Ohio". Each panel consisted of three or four speakers who talked for ten-fifteen minutes. There were also honored two very distinguished keynote speakers who were the Honorable Mitsuhiro Wada, Consul General of Japan, and the Honorable Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General of India.
Of course Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council President Kevin Kelley stopped by to say a few words and we want to give our good friend, Mr. Dan Hansen from "Clevelandpeople.com" credit for photographing and recording the entire program which was no easy task considering he was stationed in the same spot all day with his equipment.
We, ourselves, felt absolutely drained at the end of the day because there was so much useful but detailed knowledge to absorb and we didn't even try to put our notes together until the next day.
One presentation that was particularly relevant to "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" was that of Mr. Stephen Strnisha, Chief Executive Officer of the "Cleveland International Fund" who talked about the history of EB5 Investor visas and how much they have benefited the Cleveland area. We learned that such undertakings as the UH Health System Expansion Project, Flats East Bank development project-Phases I and II, Westin Convention Center Hotel, Crocker Park and American Greetings HQ, and The Nine were all at partially built with EB5 money. All in all, $225 million has been spent in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
To be sure, Ms. Margaret W. Wong spoke for a few minutes too and focused her remarks on the immigrant experience and what it is like, after years of trying, to finally obtain one's green card and/or citizenship. She talked about what it is like being an immigration attorney and having to work with federal requirements that are quite confusing and burdensome but how rewarding it ultimately is knowing that you have helped someone obtain their dreams. As for assistance to foreign-born people who have recently arrived in the United States, she recalled instances where she and her family have reached out to newcomers and actually had them over to her house or taken them out to dinner which lead to wonderful relationships being formed.
As for the overall message of the day, it seemed that it would have to be that Asian countries (China, Japan, Singapore, India, Vietnam, etc.) are all very eager to trade with the United States and what has taken place so far in terms of businesspeople in Asian countries basing businesses here and U.S. entrepreneurs doing the same in the Asian countries has worked out very well. Certainly there are still barriers ( tricky regulations, financial restrictions, complicated tax structures) but it seems like there are solid movements in the works to remove or to constructively redesign them. Therefore, all of us should get ready to move forward and to plan a future that will include many international counterparts.
Cuyahoga Country Executive Armond Budish, who was also present, acknowledged in his remarks that Asians living both here and abroad have created more businesses here in Northeast Ohio than any other ethnic group so it is very important that our relations with those in Asian countries continue to progress thus creating "a two-way street" on which "both ways are rewarding and beneficial."
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC