Taiwan, Chattanooga try to lessen distance

Taiwan, Chattanooga try to lessen distance

March 22nd, 2012 by Perla Trevizo in Business Around the Region

Anna A. Kao, of the Tapai Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga State Community College is expanding its community halfway around the globe to include Taiwan.

Representatives from Taiwan announced a memorandum of understanding with the college Wednesday to bring more cultural exchanges and international development to the campus.

"We want to bring the students greater cultural and global understanding," said Kenneth Goldsmith, head of the business department at Chattanooga State Community College.

"And this is the first step in developing relationships with other locations and create opportunities to become an international campus," he added.

The agreement is in the very early stages.

The announcement was made during a talk, "Taiwan and the U.S.A.: Closer than you think," by Anna A. Kao, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in Atlanta. The speech was part of the Mountain City Club's speaker series.

The relationship between Taiwan and the Volunteer State is nothing knew. Taiwan has been Tennessee's sister state for 32 years and it's the 17th largest trading partner.

There are several Taiwanese companies in the state. One is Quanta Computers, the largest notebook manufacturing company in the world, which has plant in Nashville.

The challenge, Kao said, is that not many people in Taiwan think of the Southeastern United States and of Chattanooga when planning trips or investments.

"How are we going to get people [in Taiwan] to appreciate the beauty of the Southeast?" she asked.

"Chattanooga is not a large city, but it's beautiful, it's well designed," she added, and cultural exchange and agreements such as the one reached with Chattanooga State are the first step, she said.

Terry Olsen, an immigration attorney and member of the Mountain City Club, coordinated Kao's visit.

"We are at a time when we have international investment," said Olsen, whose wife is Taiwanese. "But we need to develop relationships with other countries in order to foster a trend and to not sit on just one investment. Chattanooga is an international city and we need to develop that even more so."