Gwinnett Chamber courts Korean business

DULUTH - Gwinnett County and the state of Georgia offer a good base for more Korean companies to do business, and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce is leading them in.

The Chamber this week is hosting Korean representatives from 25 international companies considering setting up shop in Georgia.

Korea is a wealthy country, said Wayne Yee, representing the Korean International Trade Association.

"Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world and we are the 7th largest U.S. trading partner," he said. "Our annual trade is $4 billion with Georgia."

Korea wants to grow those dollars in the U.S. and have also visited the state of Idaho as a prospective business location, said Song-Hae Bok, KITA delegation chair. Business executives are looking at investing in real estate, education, biotechnology, industry, tourism, franchises and at expanding existing businesses, Yee said.

Korean business people will meet with representatives from a number of Gwinnett County and Georgia companies over the next two days including Extreme Bootcamp, the McCart Group and Troy University, said Nick Masino, the Chamber's vice president of economic development.

"In every good economy you want foreign money invested," Masino said. "If not, it becomes a stagnant market."

A number of Korean businesses are already operating in Gwinnett County.

Today, the Maryland-based Rhee Bros. will announce plans to convert a former Wal-Mart building on Pleasant Hill Road into Assi Plaza, a Korean supermarket.

There are 11 other locations in the chain, including one in Duluth. The shopping center is expected to open this fall and will have more than 140,000 square feet of retail space.

- Staff Writer Arielle Kass contributed to this article.