Top officials from Gwinnett County and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce will be traveling to China and South Korea this month to stoke existing relationships and drum up new business. 

Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, chamber President Jim Maran and economic development Vice President Nick Masino will spend four days in Shanghai and nearby cities beginning June 19.

Then they’ll head to Beijing to meet with prospects and spend a day with Huo Dufang, president of the China Home Appliance Association, the country’s largest home appliance trade group. 

Ms. Huo visited Gwinnett County in December.  The chamber honored her at a luncheon hosted jointly with Hisense USA Corp., a Georgia subsidiary of Qingdao, China-based Hisense Group.

Hisense is one of the top 10 home electronics and appliance manufacturers in China.  The company makes televisions, refrigerators, washing machines and other products.  Hisense put its U.S. headquarters in the Gwinnett County town of Suwanee in 2001.  Almost 20 employees at the Suwanee operation work on sales, marketing and logistics support, said Steve Cohen, Hisense USA’s director of sales and marketing, told GlobalAtlanta

Mr. Cohen is helping arrange the meetings with Ms. Huo and will accompany the Gwinnett officials on the trip.

After their stop in Beijing, they will meet Hisense leaders at the company’s headquarters in Qingdao, a coastal city that is home to Tsingtao, China’s best-known beer. The delegates will also visit a Hisense showroom and factory, according to an itinerary provided by the chamber. 

Later, they’ll meet with government officials and industry leaders to discuss potential investment in Gwinnett County.

Mr. Masino, who heads up economic development efforts at the chamber, has told GlobalAtlanta that attracting global companies is an integral part of the chamber’s strategy to draw jobs and investment for Gwinnett. 

The county won a major coup June 2 when NCR Corp. announced that it would move its corporate headquarters from Dayton, Ohio, to Duluth, bringing 1,250 new jobs in addition to the 300 the technology company relocated here last year.

NCR will be Georgia’s 14th Fortune 500 company.  It is also building an ATM factory in Columbus that will create 870 jobs, and it’s expanding a customer service center in Peachtree City, creating 916 jobs over 26 months.

More than half of NCR’s revenues come from global markets, according to the company’s 2009 first-quarter report. NCR has factories in China, Hungary and India.

During the 2009 BIO International Convention in Atlanta in May, Gwinnett leaders met with a Hong Kong delegation that included economic development officials and representatives from the city’s science and technology parks, Mr. Masino said.

Last October, the chamber hosted a speech by the Canton Fair‘s executive director, who aimed to get Georgia companies to exhibit at the world’s largest trade fair in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

“Everything that comes through town, we’re getting a shot at it,” said Mr. Masino.

After Qingdao, officials will visit Seoul and officially sign a “sister community” partnership with Gangnam, a district in the Korean capital city. 

The Gwinnett County government approved a measure confirming the relationship on March 6. 

The delegation will return from Asia on July 2.

For more information, visit the chamber’s web site at


As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...