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AACG's 2017 Economic Summit

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While we were at the "Ohio Asian American Economic Summit" on November 14th at the Ariel Center in Cleveland, we met Dr. Joy Kouns-Lewis, Vice President of the "Asian American Commerce Group" (AACG) located in Columbus whose mission is to foster "the advancement and creation of synergy among the Asian Americans in Ohio and global businesses. AACG provides a forum for the Asian Americans, minorities, and women owned businesses through consulting, networking and communication."

Dr. Kouns-Lewis invited us to come to Columbus on Tuesday, November 29th to partake in the AACG's 2017 Economic Summit to be held at the "Center for Science and Industry" (COSI) so we obtained the sponsorship of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" and in the words of Mr. Terry Bolden from ODOT (who took part in one of the panels on that day) took the "Highway 71 shuffle to Columbus" where we tabled throughout the day and made about 20 excellent contacts including Mr. Emmet Apolinaro of the "Ohio Business Brokers Association" who was very interested in hearing about EB5 visas; Ms. Manju Sankarappa, Organizing Committee Chair of Columbus' Asian Festival; Mr. Sumithra Jagannath, President of "ZED Digital" to whom we gave a copy of Ms. Wong's book "The Immigrant's Way"'; and a young person who may need our help in obtaining an H1B visa.

Along these lines, we would like to thank Mr. Shyam Rajadhyaksha, the President of AACG, for helping us to carry in our tabling supplies when we first arrived. He was a very nice man.

Along the way we learned from the three panels offered concerning how to be successful marketing to governmental agencies; business opportunities and resources for minority and female-owned companies; and the value of leadership and developing one's own pathway to success.

Not that much was said about immigrant entrepreneurs although one of the panelists, a very successful female attorney who immigrated to the United States from India, had a lot of valuable things to say regarding the importance of finding the right balance between observing the customs of her adopted country and not forgetting her own cultural heritage. She talked about how popular she became with her clients and their families when she arranged for them to enjoy an Indian meal with her instead of the usual outings of golf and happy hours. She was also delighted when she discovered that her counterparts were eager to discuss cricket with her so she did not have to learn about football.

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We also had a very good discussion with Mayor J.R. Rausch of the City of Marysville about how important Japanese-owned firm are to Marysville and Union County as a whole. In fact there are 21 Japanese-owned firms located there including several divisions of "Honda", "Midwest Express, Inc.", and "KNB Tools of America, Inc." which employ 25% of the area's workforce and have contributed perhaps $5 billion dollars in 35 years to the local economy. Not only that, within the vicinity are located the largest Japanese language classes in Ohio and these are attended by many students in both middle school and high school. Part of the motivation for establishing these classes was the fact that many of these students' parents work for Japanese-owned businesses thus they realize that knowing at least one other language is a vital element for success in the international economy of the future as well as now.

In addition, we talked to Mr. Stephen Francis, Chief Diversity Officer for the City of Columbus, about the need for special outreach to foreign born people who have started their own businesses since there often are language and cultural barriers.

One piece of advice that was given in the course of the presentations that applies to all budding entrepreneurs (regardless of race, gender, or location of birth) is that in order to succeed it is vital that one not only work hard but make the right connections. What's more they must have vision and the ability to put together team of talented people.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

 

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