Chamber, Korea bond strengthened
Liaison to work here, look for business opportunities

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County's already successful economic development and business relationship with the Republic of Korea just got even better.

That's because the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that an agreement with the Small and Medium Business Corporation of Korea (SBC) had been signed.

The agreement means beginning this winter, the SBC will send a liaison officer to live in Gwinnett for a two-year-term to work out of the chamber's office.

That person's job primarily will be to identify business opportunities between small and medium enterprises, Georgia and the Republic of Korea.

Nick Masino, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, said such an undertaking has never been tried before. To his knowledge, he said, the Republic of Korea currently doesn't have anyone else living in the United States doing this type of work.

"This means we'll always be on the radar," Masino said. "They didn't choose New York or LA, they chose here."

With the metro area possessing one of the larger Korean populations in the United States, the move could mean continued expansion by Korean businesses in metro Atlanta and specifically, in Gwinnett County.

"If any potential project or operation from Korea is looking to come here to the United States, we'll get to see it first," Masino said. "We'll get the first look at everything ... I think we'll own over the next few years everything coming from Korea."

Masino said the agreement stemmed mainly from the chamber's previous work and its sister community agreement that was signed with Gangnam.

That's what Jay Eun, the chamber's vice chair for global business, said, too. Eun traveled with the Gwinnett delegation earlier this year on the group's first-ever recruitment mission to Asia.

"When we signed our sister community agreement with Gangnam, it was only a matter of time before we would see the next logical step to building bridges for business development between Korea, the U.S. and in particular, the state of Georgia and Gwinnett County," Eun said. "We look for more to come in the near future as we continue to aggressively pursue this relationship for global commerce."

Masino said the position will be paid for completely by the SBC and said Korean businesses can rest assured knowing their contact in the United States is working for them right here in Gwinnett County.

"I've got an additional staff member focused on one country and it costs me nothing aside from the space," Masino said. "We count it a true privilege and wonderful opportunity to further expand the solid Korean business foundations already present in Gwinnett and the state of Georgia."