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Utah Asian group courting China

It joins others aiming to build business relations

Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and Utah's Asian community are joining the long list of suitors courting business relations with the burgeoning market of China.

The Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce sponsored its second annual Access Asia networking event on the campus of Westminster College last Friday night. It brought together civic and political leaders along with members of the Asian and Utah business communities to discuss strategies for sharing information on tapping into the international marketplace — particularly Asia.

During an interview with the Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said the county is working to help local entrepreneurs improve their chances for success in foreign and domestic markets by teaching them how to develop their small, typically family-owned businesses.

"In Salt Lake County we have a program called the Upgrade Program where we have training classes and resources where people can connect to different Web sites and get information on how to start a business in Utah or how to get government contracts," he said. "We'll have attorneys come in and talk about legal issues, accountants come in and talk about accounting issues and so forth."

Regarding the Asian chamber's efforts to foster business relations with China and other countries, Corroon said the county does not do business internationally, but is a strong supporter of area groups who reach out to foreign nations.

"We're part of a community that wants to make sure that (local) businesses have opportunities outside of the country," he said.

The co-organizer of the event was Christopher Tong, director of the Center for China-American Business Studies at Westminster College. He said he would like to see Utah businesses become more connected with businesses in China. To make that connection, Tong said, the center initially began by organizing a forum last May in Salt Lake City that included managers of economic development zones from China with the goal of forging long-lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships.

"At Westminster, we do hold workshops and forums and discussions that bring groups of businessmen together the will hopefully be able to promote trade between the two countries and, of course, the state of Utah and different provinces in China," he said.

Tong said in the future he hopes to bring in other business people and dignitaries from China as speakers to offer their insights on the developing global marketplace. He said the goal would be to help Utah business people learn more about China with an eye toward one day expanding their operations to China and its vast consumer base.