▲ (from left) Alex Lin, Brad Mink, Alina Ciocan, and Terry Simons
[Original post date: June 1, 2012]
A team of officials and ambassadors from the city of Carrollton returned home from a week-long trip to Korea. Their mission was to take the city’s economic development effort between Korea and Carrollton to the "next level."
Brad Mink, the economic development director for the city of Carrollton, and Carrollton City Council member Terry Simons invited a group of Dallas Korean-American reporters to a luncheon at the Korean Bistro Sura last Thursday May 31st.
Also at the luncheon were Chanil Park and Alex Lin, both of whom are Carrollton’s ambassadors to Korea and China, respectively. Yong Ahn, Korean advisor to the city of Carrollton also attended the luncheon.
All five of them went on a week-long trip to Korea from May 1st through 8th. They visited Carrollton’s sister city of Guri. They met with the local government officials and some of the major business leaders to discuss economic development efforts between the two cities.
Councilman Terry Simons, who visited Korea for the first time, said he was amazed by the experience. "It was an amazing experience for me. Korea is a beautiful and vibrant country. We built relationships with some of the largest Korean businesses while we were there."
When asked what impressed him the most, Simons replied "The people. They were friendly, welcoming, and gracious."
Simons is the first active political leader in the city’s present administration to step forward and become proactive in getting involved with the business and social activities with the City of Guri.
Unlike Councilman Simons, Brad Mink wasn’t new to Korea. In describing the purpose of the trip, Mink explained "It was a continuation of long term program and commitment between the City of Carrollton and Guri to further the relationship."
Carrollton is rapidly becoming the center of the Korean-American population, not only in Dallas-Fort Worth area but also in the state of Texas.
Mink pointed out two major events that unfolded this past year. "We had two events that really set Carrollton apart. It’s one thing to have the population but another thing to have the infrastructure support. Mr. Park opened the retirement community 'Villas of Raiford'. And Spa Castle opened as well, which is the premier spa facility in the entire United States" said Mink.
The City of Carrollton experienced the growth of the Shops at Old Denton with the arrival of H-Mart about 3 years ago. Carrollton is rapidly developing not only a place to live but also a lifestyle that’s extremely accommodating to the Korean-American population, according to Mink.
"We’ve had tremendous investment and growth in the Korean-American community in business, commercial, and residential development" said Mink.
While in Korea, Carrollton city officials met with some of the largest Korean commercial developers and construction companies who conduct business globally. Carrollton city officials introduced them to potential opportunities in Carrollton.
"I’d say the trip was very successful. We met with two of the largest commercial construction companies in Korea. We also met with a large Korean automotive company that is seeking investment and expansion opportunities here in the United States. We wanted to introduce Carrollton to major investors to become partners in a permanent manner" said Mink.
The City of Carrollton and Guri currently have a sister city agreement. And as the City of Carrollton’s economic development expands so will their relationship.
According to Chanil Park, who is Carrollton’s ambassador to Korea, the City of Carrollton has the most extensive connection with Korea than any other cities in Texas. "With the FTA between the U.S. and Korea now in place, I believe the automotive industry is going to be one of the industries that will benefit from it" said Park.
Mink agreed with Park’s view. "Some of the Korean automotive companies look at Texas as an ideal place to build cars. There are also many products from Carrollton that could be marketed to consumers in Korea. Korea has an array of home shopping networks. We can utilize their system to market our products instead of using the department stores, which can be very expensive in Korea" said Mink.
Before any of this can happen, the first thing is to build the relationship between the people of Korea and Carrollton, according to Mink. "That’s why Councilman Simons is involved in this. If you build the relationship first and let the people do the business, everything will be good. It worked in Taiwan and China. And now it’s working in Korea" said Mink.
Councilman Simons thinks the City of Carrollton already has the connection that it needs to build the relationship. "When I was in Guri, I met some students who studied at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton. So, we are already forming the relationship through young kids who have ties to our city. It’s going to benefit both countries. Guri is on the verge of starting one of the largest development projects in Korea with its plan for the International Design Center" said Simons.
According to Mink, the City of Carrollton is taking on a regional leadership role in creating business opportunities with Korea. "We can work as a region. Carrollton will take the lead in the regional effort. Carrollton has always been a regional player. Even if the Korean automotive manufacturer doesn’t come to Carrollton, people of Carrollton will still be able to work in the facility. And it will help the entire DFW region" said Mink.
Tony Chai / firstname.lastname@example.org