A group of Georgia economic developers and professionals will head to South Korea at the end of the month to participate in a panel discussion outlining potential opportunities for Korean companies interested in investing in the state.
The panel will be hosted as part of the Incheon Global Fair & Festival, an 80-day expo that kicks off Aug. 7. The fair will foster the sharing of practices on international issues while showing off ambitious new development and infrastructure projects in the coastal city of Incheon, a dynamic area where Korea’s major international airport is located.
Craig Lesser, former commissioner of Georgia Department of Economic Development, will talk about how Georgia’s relationship with Kia Motors Corp. evolved, culminating in the Korean auto maker’s decision to place a $1.2 billion manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga., during Mr. Lesser’s tenure.
Now a private consultant with Pendleton Consulting Group LLC, Mr. Lesser has retained Kia as a client, but his presentation won’t be all about that project.
Mr. Lesser will also say that now is the “prime opportunity” for Korean companies to capitalize on the growing relationship between Korea and Georgia and the opportunities presented by the strong Korean community in the state, he told GlobalAtlanta.
Nick Masino, vice president of economic development for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, cites the Korean community as one of Gwinnett County‘s primary advantages in courting Korean businesses. Out of 800,000 citizens, Mr. Masino puts the number of Koreans in the county at about 45,000, relying on statistics gathered by an extensive survey conducted by Jay Eun, a prominent businessman and member of Atlanta’s Korean community. Mr. Eun, president of the Korean-American Association of Greater Atlanta, will join Mr. Masino and Mr. Lesser on the panel.
Mr. Masino will be returning to Korea for the third time in the last five months. On his last trip in late June, he led a delegation that included chamber leaders and Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, who formally inked a sister-community partnership with Gangnam-gu, a district of Seoul, the Korean capital. Two months before that, Mr. Masino went to scope out the potential for bringing Korean gaming companies to Gwinnett.
On the panel, Mr. Masino will talk specifically about what his community can offer small- and medium-sized Korean companies eyeing overseas expansions.
According to Mr. Lesser, the panel has been organized with the help of Portman Holdings, an Atlanta-based development firm leading the consortium responsible for building an iconic 151-story super high-rise tower and huge mixed-use development in the Incheon Free Economic Zone.
The Portman development – which including the tower will have nearly 26,000 residences along with a five-star hotel, office units, a golf course, a nearly mile-long lake and parks – is just one effort in Incheon’s massive master plan to create new hubs for global finance, logistics and business in the free zone.
Called Songdo Landmark City, Portman’s project will anchor Songdo, a new 13,000-acre sub-city proposed as the zone’s epicenter for global business.