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Mexican/Canadian Customs Update and Border Compliance Seminar

On Wednesday, November 12th, we started our day at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland where we attended the first part of the "Mexican/Canadian Customs Update and Border Compliance Seminar" sponsored by the City of Mentor; the International Trade Initiative of Mentor, Ohio; Northeast Ohio Trade and Economic Consortium; Dickinson Wright; Northeast Ohio Trade and Economic Consortium (NEOTEC), and Vigilant Global Trade Services.It was organized by Ms. Kim Holizna, International Trade Administrator with the City of Mentor with some help from our friend Mr. John Senese from Neotec.

The seminar was packed with about 84 people signed up for it. Among the types of businesses seeking information were a rubber company, an aircraft parts manufacturer, a rubber coating firm, a firm that specialized in wastewater treatment, a logistics company, and a manufacturer of cast brass and bronze alloys. We visited with as many people as we could both before the seminar started and during the morning break and made about 25 new contacts.

Among the topics that were discussed were the effect of NAFTA, border compliance and documentation and customs assessments and procedures.

We liked a section presented by Mr. Dan Ujczo of Dickinson Wright which dealt with "cross border travel issues" between the United States and Canada. Mr. Ujczo gave a brief but very informative overview about the need for businesspeople, professionals, salespeople doing trade shows, and regular workers who travel from the United States to Canada to work or do business to make sure that they obtain the correct visa before they start their trip or face interminable, frustrating delays at the U.S./Canadian Border. Mr. Ujczo also explained how difficult it is now for a person with a DUI on his/her record to gain entry into Canada due to how a DUI is classified in the Canadian Criminal Justice System. Mr. Ujczo knows Ms. Margaret W. Wong and said "hello" to her as did Mr. Daniel G. Boerio, Import Specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

We also met Mexican Trade Official Francisco De La Cruz Garcia and Mexican Attorney Carlos A. Arevalo Garza. We were almost the first one there in the morning but we were beat out by Mr. Larry Boros who owns a company named Alamarra which creates crepe mixes. As it turned out, Mr. Boros' wife Markay knew Margaret W. Wong from the assistance she provided to Hunter Defense Tech years ago.

We would have liked to stay to hear more including Canadian Counsel General Douglas George who was scheduled to speak in the afternoon but we had to get to our next event which meant a lot to many people.

And that event was the 2014 MBE Urban Professional Awards organized by Mr. Lou Acosta, President of North Coast Minority Media and the Diversity Chamber. This program was held at noon at the COSE offices on Huron in downtown Cleveland.

The emcee was Ms. Rita M. Singh, CEO and Founder of Elite Women Around the World and S & A Consulting Group, LLP. Ms. Singh said that those who were honored are those who have made a difference in "where we live and work." She went on to say that they are people who inspire, encourage, motivate, and engage. What's more they are "doers and givers who never quit...to them social responsibility is a way of life." She credited Mr. Acosta for "finding these gems in our community."

Mr. Acosta, himself, wrote a statement that appeared in the program booklet in which he noted that the people being honored on this day were people of color and many of whom had immigrated to the United States from other countries. Along these lines, he wrote that, "for years, immigrants and minorities have been building successful businesses that create good jobs and promote our economic growth. These businesses form the fabric of our communities, and are part of our American heritage as a nation of innovators. They foster vitality, creativity and diversity in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. And, in addition to creating jobs here at home, they are helping to increase America's global competitiveness by exporting and opening up markets around the world. Immigrants or their children have founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies which collectively employ over 10 million people and generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion dollars."

Credit and thanks were given to Mr. Steve Mallard, President of COSE for enthusiastically allowing the ceremony to take place there. Mr. Mallard told all of us in attendance that COSE's purpose was to connect small businesses, such as those owned by many of the honorees, with the resources in the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio community that would help them be successful according to their own standards. To be sure, Margaret W. Wong and Associates is a member of COSE and we attend as many of their functions as we can. Mr. Acosta thanked him for his help to establish the Minority Business Council.

Then it was time to distribute the awards and this year the recipients were:

***Ms. Nipendra (Nip) Singh, Chairman and CEO of S & A Consulting Group, LLP

***Mr. Ratanjit S. Sondhe, Founder and CEO, of Discoverhelp, Inc., and Poly-Carb, Inc.

***Mr. Shao-Jia Huang, Owner of Emperor's Palace Restaurant

***Mr. Nasava Pham, Owner of Nasava Income Tax Travel and Service and Director of Vadico

***Mr. Adrian Ortega, Owner of La Plaza Supermarket and Adrian Micheal Jewelry

***Dr. Maria Pujana, Owner of Marise Designs

***Mr. Pierre Bejjani, Owner/Publisher of Profile News and President of CAMEO

***Mr. Ali Faraj, Owner of La Villa Conference and Banquet Center and Seaway Cash N Carry

***Mr. David W. Price, Owner of Price Builders & Developers, Inc., LLC

***Mr. Kazell Pugh, President of tlcspringwater

***Ms. Chia Chen, Asian Liaison to the City of Cleveland

***Ms. Marsha Mockabee, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Urban League

***Ms. Renita Jefferson, Director of Leadership and Development for American Greetings Each of the honorees got to speak for a few minutes and we really liked it when Ms. Mockabee said that she just loved Ms. Margaret W. Wong who took time out of a busy work day to be there.

Mr. Singh acknowledged that Ms. Rita N. Singh was his wife of 35 years. He said, with humor, that in a relationship only one person should talk and the other one should listen and he was definitely on the listening side.

Mr. Sondhe said that he didn't consider the United States of America to be a country but a experiment "by the whole human race" to send their best and their brightest here to see what they could do.

Mr. Ortega talked about how he immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1977 and truly loves it here because the United States is the only country in the world where one can become what one wants to become.

And Ms. Chen reminded everyone that our founding fathers immigrated to the United States also.

As the ceremony concluded, Mr. Acosta thanked all of us for coming to this event "and sharing with these fine people." We arranged to meet Ms. Margaret W. Wong at Lincoln West-High School for a Friends of Lincoln West Advisory Board Meeting. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Hans Holznagel and we got to meet the new site coordinator, Mr. Michael Cook.

About 17 people were there including Dr. Irene G. Javier (the Campus Administrator who remembered us from when we visited Lincoln-West at its open house on Sept. 11th) and Ms. Debbie Warman of MetroHealth who was there with several of her colleagues on behalf of the MetroHealth Mentoring Program.

During the course of the meeting, it was said that Lincoln-West was home to 900 students of 51 nationalities who spoke 38 languages. It greatly prides itself on its diversity.

Among the subjects that were discussed at this meeting were possible "elevator speeches" that one could employ to promote Lincoln-West and the possible creation of a speed bump to slow down speeders. What really impressed us was the number of people who attended this meeting out of their dedication to Lincoln-West and its goal to produce graduates who will want to explore the world, communicate with people without cultural barriers and recognize the other party's perspective and take action on matters instead of simply talking about them.

Another thing that impressed us was MetroHealth's extensive mentoring program which is very successful. Prior to adjournment, Ms. Warman of MetroHealth said that these meeting were not to just sit around and talk but to organize and take action which sounds to us just like the ideal Lincoln-West student. It would seem that the students and MetroHealth are very well-paired.

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