By Greg Hugh - 


On Nov. 1, the Chinese American Business Association of Minnesota (CABAM) along with the U.S.-China Business Connections (UCBC) and sponsored by the China Center at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Trade Office kicked off the Chinese Business Forum, with a busy networking Session.  It took place at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business, where the University’s China 100 story was also on display in the atrium. The networking session ended as the gathering was ushered into the auditorium when the forum began.


Eric Gong, president of CABAM, and Rodney Hiel, president of UCBC, welcomed the group as they provided background information on their respective organizations and the agenda for the forum. They also stated that there would be no questions taken during the information-packed individual presentations, but questions could be texted for follow-up and responses later on during the forum.

Gong then introduced Kathleen Motzenbecker, director of the Minnesota Trade Office, who spoke on “Talent, Innovation, Trade: Minnesota’s Spotlight On China” followed by Professor Art Hill, Carlson School of Management, who introduced Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State, who addressed,  “Looking Ahead - Minnesota-China Business Connections In The Coming Decade.”

After a short break, the forum continued as Joan Brzezinski, executive director, China Center, introduced Luomei Shu, commercial counselor from The Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Chicago, who spoke on “China’s Reform And Economy Benefit Our Business Cooperation With the U.S. And Minnesota.” 

Following this presentation was a panel discussion on public and private industries, which was moderated by Winston Zheng, president of Unique Wood Floors and Seymour Mansfield, partner at Foley & Mansfield, PLLP. The panelists included Brant Schulz, finance director, Control Products; Joab Meyer, operations program manager, Cisco Systems; Su Ye, chief economist, MN Department of Agriculture; Lixiao Wang, serial medical device scientist, inventor and entrepreneur. 

The forum ended with Gong and Hiel providing closing remarks followed by a networking reception.

According to the organizers, the goal of the 2014 Minnesota China Business Forum was to engage the Minnesota business, professional and educational communities to promote Minnesota – China economic development through collaboration and education.  Thus the program provided a picture of where we are now and projected trends in bilateral Minnesota-China business over the next eight-to-nine years in anticipation of the Twin Cities hosting the 2023 World Expo Fair.  

As noted in the topics and panel discussion, the Forum focused on such timely topics as challenges and opportunities for building Minnesota-China business, evaluating historical business models, and envisioning the future:  What skills and experience, specialized knowledge, niche products and services, and state infrastructure and intergovernmental relationships optimize Minnesota businesses in turning opportunities into thriving China commerce.

The organizers made sure there was sufficient networking time at the beginning and end of the forum to ensure opportunities for attendees to make valuable new connections since the gathering was comprised of individuals from different segments of the community, especially college students anxious to learn more about doing business with China and sought to make connections that would help them towards this goal. 

To learn more about doing business with China, feel free to contact any of the organizations mentioned above. UCBC has announced a special membership drive. See their banner ad in right column.

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