OCIE SBDC Trade Mission Strengthens Economic Ties Between Southern California’s Orange County/Inland Empire Region and South Korea

A delegation of prominent leaders and business professionals  from Orange County and the Inland Empire, California, recently concluded a successful trade mission to South Korea, organized by the Orange County Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Network (OCIE SBDC). The mission, aimed at fostering economic partnerships and exploring opportunities for collaboration, facilitated a vibrant exchange between the two regions. “The trade mission was a great opportunity for the OCIE SBDC to expose our local business owners to opportunities in other countries.  We look forward to continuing to grow our Global Trade program to support businesses with expanding their sales beyond the U.S.,” shares Mike Daniel, OCIE SDBC network director. 

The OCIE SBDC Trade Mission Delegation meets with Gyeongnam Deputy Governor for Economic Affairs, furthering partnerships for economic growth.

Led by OCIE SBDC and California State University, Fullerton’s (CSUF) College of Business and Economics leadership, and key stakeholders from the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (KACCOC) , the trade mission comprised a diverse group of 15 individuals. “The college’s mission is to create a positive economic impact in the region. This trade mission to South Korea organized by the OCIE SBDC team in coordination with the Korean American Chamber of Commerce Orange County allowed small business representatives from Southern California to explore business opportunities in South Korea while experiencing Korean culture. We intend to plan more trade missions in the future to other countries with the goal of promoting international trade in Orange County,” shared Dr. Sridhar Sundaram, dean of the College of Business and Economics, CSUF.

The mission encompassed a series of strategic meetings, tours, and networking sessions across South Korea, including Seoul, Incheon, Busna, and Changwon, offering a variety of insights into South Korea’s economic landscape. Nigel Jay, CEO and owner of Link Mobile LLC stated: “The SBDC South Korea Trade Mission significantly broadened our view of South Korea as a potential partner. To elaborate,we enlisted in the trade mission with an open mind and no expectations. What we discovered was a highly industrious population with a strong work ethic, technologically advanced society supported by tech incubators and accelerators, and a deeper understanding of the agencies, companies, and culture that drives industry growth, technology adoption, and domestic pride. We are convinced we need to include South Korea as a key component of our company growth strategy.” 

Highlights of the mission included:

  • Engaging meetings and tours at renowned organizations such as MK Media Group, the Overseas Korean Agency, and Incheon Startup Park, providing valuable exposure to various sectors and industries.
  • Signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Korea Industrial Business Association (KIBA) and the Korea Industrial Complex Corporation (KICOX), underscoring a commitment to bilateral economic cooperation and partnership development.
  • Collaborative one-on-one matchmaking sessions between OCIE SBDC small businesses and Korean-based businesses, focusing on mutual growth opportunities and support for businesses.
  • Insightful tours at G Valley Museum and Easy Network INC, offering a glimpse into South Korea’s innovation ecosystem and technological advancements.

The OCIE SBDC Trade Mission Delegation in a productive meeting with the Commissioner of Overseas Korea Agency, strengthening ties and exploring new avenues for collaboration.

The mission facilitated meaningful engagements with Seoul Business Agency , Small Business Market Promotion Corporation, Busan Economic Promotion Agency, as well as meetings with regional authorities and chambers such as the Gyeongsangnam-do Deputy Governor for Economic Affairs and the Changwon Chamber. “This trade mission to South Korea was one of the most culturally enriching experiences,” said Ash Patel, chairman, CEO and president of Commercial Bank of California. “We met with many great Korean businesses, some who conduct important trade with businesses locally in Orange County and many others who also operate here. Supporting minority small businesses is a strong focus of ours, and I’m honored to have connected with these leaders — it was truly an inspiring trip.” 

A key highlight of the mission was the tour of LG Electronics, providing participants with firsthand experience of advanced manufacturing and technological innovation. Shant Boodanian, economic development manager with the city of Anaheim said: “This was my first trade mission, and I really did not know what to expect. Looking back, I reflect on the amazing experiences this trip provided both professionally and personally. The SBDC and KACCOC did an incredible job of coordinating meetings and activities to help facilitate connections with South Korean delegates and business owners. I am confident that the relationships we built will lead to future business opportunities and collaborations.”

The 2024 OCIE SBDC Trade Mission to South Korea served as a testament to the enduring commitment of the OCIE SBDC Network and South Korea towards fostering economic growth, innovation, and collaboration on a global scale in support of the growth and expansion of small businesses in Orange County and the Inland Empire

For more information about the trade mission and future initiatives, visit OCIE SBDC Trade Mission.

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