South Korea & China Trip 2012 hosted by AJIN USA
Some people may not understand why it was viable for a group of Chambers Country residents to travel to South Korea and China for a week but for the ones that attended, they each know how necessary it was for the future of the county’s success. On March 31st, a group of Chambers County residents attended a trip hosted and paid for by AJIN USA. This was an opportunity for cultural education, industry recruitment, and the strengthening of current ties between Chambers County, AL and Korean industries. The residents flew to Daegu, South Korea, where they met Mr. Jung Ho Seo, President of AJIN and members of his top administrative corporate team. While in Korea, the group had the opportunity to visit the AJIN Daegu Corporate Headquarters and also meet personally with Mr. Seo to discuss future plans for AJIN USA in Chambers County. During this meeting, the group had a chance to express their gratitude for AJIN and the contributions that Mr. Seo has made to their organizations and the Community. . Mr. Seo also explained to the group his plans for future investments in Chambers County which included expansion in plant capacity and additional job creation. The group also found out first hand of President Seo’s business philosophy, “Grow your business and share your profits to benefit society”, in which President Seo addressed the group and stated his intent to continue with contributions to several charities and nonprofit organizations in Chambers County. “Without the strong relationship with President Seo and his upper management team, Chambers County would not have been the recipient of so much corporate success. It is important to continue and build on this relationship with not only AJIN and its employees but also other Korean industries as well. Like with anything, consistent work on both parties is necessary for a relationship to continue”, Valerie Gray said. During the meeting with President Seo, the A-KEEP Program, which offers scholarship opportunities for Alabama Youth Ambassadors to study at the Hwarange Education Institution for a Global/Korean Leadership Training Program, that Chambers County schools will be participating in was discussed with Chambers County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelli Tucker. AJIN will be a host for the program and hopes to have the opportunity to educate Chambers County high school students on the manufacturing facilities in Korea as well as traditional Korean experiences and etiquette training at Youngju Sunbichon. Superintendent Kelli Tucker and Mr. Seo had a discussion about plans for the program and the possibility of this partnership. After a quick lunch on the road, the group toured the South Korean cities of Gyeongju-si, and Gyeongsangbuk-do, where they were introduced to Korean farming, Korean diet, living styles, etc. “This was a great opportunity for me to immerse myself into the Korean way of life. My job as family coordinator at the CCDA is to assist these families when moving into Chambers County; therefore, I learned as much as I could to make these transitions as easy as possible for families in the future. It is so important to understand where and what these people come from “said Kimberly Fuller of the CCDA.
Following the meeting with President Seo, the group departed for Ulsan and had the opportunity to tour the Hyundai Heavy Industries Facility where they were introduced to the transformers that will soon be manufactured at the Hyundai facility in Montgomery, AL. Later that afternoon the CCDA representatives met with four Korean investors about future investment plans in Chambers County. Questions that arose in this meeting included security and life safety measures to the industrial park which the Sheriff’s department offers, the education system, and the willingness of elected officials to assist companies when needed. “It was very convenient for us to have all of these key individuals there with us to answer questions that matched with the specific roles within the county”, Kimberly Fuller said. Directly after the meeting, Commissioner Wood and CCDA representatives met with Mr. Daniel Lee from AJIN to discuss future plans for Wooshin USA, which was bought out of bankruptcy by AJIN USA late last year. It was learned that Wooshin USA has plans to expand and add more employees in the near future once the bankruptcy case is final but financing is critical to their business plan right now. “ The Chambers County Commissioners feel that it is critical to protect our investment in Wooshin USA, therefore, we must do whatever we can to politically support Wooshin’s future investments in Chambers County, which means jobs to our residents”, stated Commissioner Debbie Wood. Wrapping up the meeting, Commissioner Wood, reassured Mr. Daniel Lee that the Chambers County Commission intends to politically offer support in Wooshin’s application for EB-5 investment program, by offering to contact our U.S. Representatives and Senators to help expedite the application process.
Later that week, the group traveled to Shanghai, China, where they were exposed to the Chinese culture, living situations, agriculture base, and visited AJIN Shanghai. The group experienced true Asian culture as they toured ancient Chinese gardens and temples. In China, the group met again with Mr. Seo, his associate Duke Jang, and also a Chinese banker who has ties to Mr. Seo and his companies. Discussions around future economic development took place. One morning while in China, Doug Dewberry, CEO of Lanier Hospital had the opportunity to visit a local hospital there in Shanghai . He also had the opportunity to personally thank Mr. Seo for donating money to Lanier Health Services that went toward the building of the new medical pavilion. This urgent care facility will not only assist AJIN and other companies within the industrial parks with their employees but also be a valuable asset to the American & Korean residents living in the apartments in Valley.
The group of Chambers County residents who attended the trip was able to experience and appreciate life in other areas of the world. Each person was able to take away parts of the trip that will allow them to do their jobs better in Alabama and to make Chambers County the best place it can be for all people. Chambers County has a lot to offer new residents and also new industry and constituents look forward to future relationships that grow out of trips like this.