An Atlanta businessman has added some spice to Georgia-China relations by opening a Jamaican restaurant July 8 in one of China’s southeastern coastal provinces.

Glendon Thompson, managing director of Arcom Group Inc., which uses technology to help other companies to increase energy efficiency and environmental responsibility, owns the newly established Cho-Cho Jamaican Restaurant in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province.

After his first trip to China in July 2006, Mr. Thompson started a company there called Hangzhou Arcom Investment and Consulting Company, which “stands ready to provide a bridge and office presence to the small- and mid-sized companies in the Atlanta metro area,” he told GlobalAtlanta in an email interview from Hangzhou.

The Hangzhou arm of Arcom aims to reduce air and water pollution in China and provides a cultural bridge for American businesses that want to go into China “toe-first,” Mr. Thompson said.
His ideas for both the business and the restaurant stemmed from his love for the Chinese people and his desire to integrate two cultures that make up parts of his personal heritage.

Mr. Thompson is one-fourth Chinese. His Chinese grandfather migrated from China to British Hong Kong and then on to British Jamaica. Mr. Thompson wanted to raise the international profile of his island homeland, which he says is far from famous in China.

“I wanted to introduce Jamaica to China. Most of the mainland Chinese I spoke to only new Jamaica as where people who run fast originated,” Mr. Thompson said. “Chinese like to eat and socialize, so I chose food as the first vehicle to introduce Jamaica, and the music is introduced while they eat.”

He said that while the Chinese palate is “as sophisticated as China’s landscape” he made some minor changes in the stark Caribbean flavors, adapting the food to the Chinese consumers much like Chinese restaurants in the U.S. modify their dishes to make them more American.

Mr. Thompson has spent 11 weeks in China this year, and he plans to spend half the year there in 2008. His growing interest in the world’s most populous country is linked not only to his culinary pursuits, but also to his desire to build relationships between Georgia companies and the huge Chinese market.

As vice chairman of the U.S.-China Cultural and Educational Foundation, Mr. Thompson has co-organized the Sept. 6-9 Chengdu-Atlanta/Fulton/Georgia Panda Arts and Business Forum, a festival that will bring Atlanta businesspeople together with companies from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

“This will be an annual event to celebrate the link between Atlanta and Chengdu through my favorite animal, the giant panda,” Mr. Thompson said. “The impact has the potential of really propelling both cities into greater prosperity.”

The forum, co-sponsored by the World Trade Center Atlanta, will celebrate the birthday of Mei Lan, the baby born at Zoo Atlanta in 2006 to Lun Lun, one of two pandas on loan from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Atlanta companies can sponsor the event by paying to have their information presented to Chinese companies that “have come halfway around the world just to meet (them) face to face,” according to an announcement on Arcom’s Web site.

The event will be culture- as well as business-oriented. The order of events includes musical presentations and a session on Chengdu tourism.

With the help of Song Yang of the U.S.-China foundation, Mr. Thompson has garnered support for the event on both sides of the world.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Arcom Group Inc. – Glendon Thompson

U.S.-China Cultural and Educational Foundation – Song Yang 678-999-8324