U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Republican representing Georgia’s 7th district, accused the country’s current immigration laws of “chilling” international business opportunities at a Georgia State University forum on March 26 hosted by GSU’s Korean-American Business Center.
“When CEOs from other countries can’t bring their family members here, we are chilling opportunities to conduct business,” he said during the forum held at the Buckhead Center of GSU’s Robinson College of Business.
He also criticized the difficulties that students from abroad have in obtaining permission to remain in the United States after they have graduated. Citing the 72,000 Korean students studying across the country, he said that U.S. policies should encourage them to stay and develop businesses.
Mr. Woodall said that first generation families coming to the U.S. provide the greatest source of start-up companies and lamented the lack of entrepreneurial activity by the general American population. He also encouraged local companies to export their products more aggressively.
In addition to Mr. Woodall, Eugene Chin Yu, U.S. president of the Federation of Korean Associations, was a featured speaker. As president of the federation, an international body, Mr. Yu represents 3.5 million Koreans who belong to 186 chapters in the U.S.
Mr. Yu promised to promote foreign direct investment in Georgia by companies that would create jobs. “Jobs are to be our top priority,” he said, adding that he would lobby for policies that create “a business friendly atmosphere,” and reduce regulations, which inhibit manufacturing companies from operating here.
“We want more Kia-type wins for our state,” he added referring to the Kia Motors Corp. plant in West Point that began manufacturing Kia vehicles in 2009.
Mr. Yu is an Augusta resident who maintains offices Washington and Seoul, Korea. He is the owner of Continental Military Services Inc. in Augusta and a marketing and sales consultant at General Purpose Vehicles, which sells armored vehicles to the Korean and Egyptian militaries.
Besides calling for an overhaul of the country’s immigration laws, Mr. Woodall encouraged the 60 attendees, mostly Korean-Americans and Korean students, to take advantage of the U.S. Commercial Service and the Small Business Administration’s export programs.
He also said that his office wanted to hear from businesses that were having problems exporting their goods due to foreign tariff barriers.
His district includes Gwinnett, Walton, Barrow and parts of Newton and Forsyth counties that have attracted Korean-American and Korean residents.
The forum was hosted by GSU’s Korean-American Business Center. GSU’s Vision 2020 plan cites South Korea as one of the main countries with which the university seeks to develop closer business and educational ties.
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