Eight Vietnamese business and government managers will speak on business opportunities in their homeland at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 23 at The Southern Center for International Studies in Atlanta.
The Vietnamese delegation is here as part of an eight week project offering the 47 participants high level management and operations training with companies in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland and New York.
Chuck Searcy, a native of Atlanta and director of humanitarian programs for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation in Hanoi, was instrumental in bringing the business fellows here where they were warmly welcomed by Secretary of State Max Cleland at the State Capitol on Oct. 4. Atlanta is hosting more delegates than any other of the cities involved in the program.
“Georgia businesses need to take a hard look at lucrative markets in Vietnam,” Mr. Searcy told GlobalFax. “Vietnam’s economy is growing at a rate of 8.5% a year, so fast that the U.S. is playing catch up (to other countries).”
He said that Atlanta’s carpet industry should be aware of Vietnam’s construction boom. Vietnam also is beginning to export food products to Japan and needs food processing equipment, packaging and marketing, he added.
Mr. Searcy explained that the fellows exchange “was a long and difficult process on the part of many individuals, but it is finally happening. The only factor not completely positive in all this has been the reluctance of some Americans to understand the new reality of Vietnam.”
This sentiment was shared by the half dozen Vietnam War veterans attending the reception. “My only problem with reconciliation is not with the Vietnamese government or people, but with Americans who did not support us during the war and who still have an attitude (of resentment),” said J. Patrick Garland, president of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, a non-profit organization which raises funds for annual memorials to Georgia soldiers who have not returned from the war.
The spirit of reconciliation was all the more significant in view of the fact that one of the Vietnamese interns being welcomed had been an enemy soldier at the siege of Khe Sanh during which Mr. Cleland was severely wounded.
Atlanta companies sponsoring interns include Dean Witter Reynolds, Coca-Cola, Douglas Asphalt, Dur Kopp Adler America, Georgia-Pacific, Indo-Thai Limited, Northern Telecom and Oxford Industries.
A second intern program is scheduled for late spring in 1996. For more information, call Kristin Weikel, the local coordinator for the program, at the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, (404) 378-8000.
by Genie R. Joiner