Over 65 people attended the first Chattanooga Chamber International Business Council (IBC) – TN-China Network (TNCN) joint panel discussion September 25 on Strengthening the Chattanooga-China Connection. With an impressive panel and engaged audience, this event successfully kicked off a TNCN-IBC partnership and ongoing community dialogue on how to boost Chattanooga exports to and attract investment from China. In addition to many people from the business community, at least 10 students studying Chinese at Baylor and McCallie Schools attended as well.
The panelists included:
- Tom Zhu, Project Manager of Yanfeng Chattanooga Facility – Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, a global auto interiors manufacturer headquartered in Shanghai, announced this year that it will invest $55 million in a Chattanooga facility to supply Volkswagen’s assembly plant, creating over 300 jobs. Zhu discussed why Yanfeng chose Chattanooga, the challenges and opportunities they face, and what the community can do to attract and support Chinese investment in the area.
- Chris McKee, Executive Vice President for Marketing and Sales at McKee Foods – McKee Foods, a family-owned, billion-dollar food company headquartered in Collegedale, TN, is exploring possibilities for exporting to China. McKee discussed the opportunities and challenges McKee Foods faces in the China market and how the Wuxi sister city relationship and the state’s TN Trade program facilitated their market entry.
- Leslee Alexander, International Director for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development – TNECD’s International Division identifies and recruits new foreign direct investment into the state as well as facilitates export assistance for Tennessee companies. Alexander discussed TNECD’s programs as they relate to China and how Chattanooga and Chattanooga companies can take advantage of them.
- Charles Wood, Vice President for Economic Development at the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce – The Chattanooga Chamber recruits foreign direct investment, including Chinese investment, into Chattanooga to create jobs and expand the local economy. Wood, the Chamber’s lead recruiter, discussed the Chamber’s efforts to attract Chinese investment and how the local community can support those efforts.
Thank you again to our event sponsor, Tennessee Foreign Language Institute (TFLI), for helping make this event possible.
Listen to audio from the event and watch a photo slideshow below. Scroll down further for some photo highlights from the event.
Event Audio Recording and Photo Slideshow