Initiatives to Strengthen City's International Ties

Leaders to create new committee, director position
   Richardson is known for its international ties, with more than 30 foreign-owned businesses maintaining offices or facilities in the city. A group of local business leaders hopes to strengthen the city's foreign connections through the creation of the Mayor's Office of International Business and the Richardson International Business Advisory Committee which Mayor Gary Slagel announced in his state of the city address in late January.
   "If we can find companies that have an interest in having a U.S. location for distribution or development or marketing, particularly in technology, then we should have a way to do that," Slagel said during an interview.  "Without an initiative, it's hard to make something happen."
   The city will provide about $190,000 per year to market Richardson to the international community and create and maintain the position of director of international business within the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.  The new director is expected to be hired with about 60 days and will help launch and maintain the initiatives.
   "These efforts are really an enhancement to what we've already done," said Bill Sproull, president of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.  "We're going to add more capacity and more resources."
   The Mayor's Office of International Business will be the face of the new efforts to help companies seeking information about Richardson.  It will be administered by the Richardson Economic Development Partnership, a joint venture between the City of Richardson and the Chamber.  The new advisory committee will create strategies on bringing international business to the city and help local businesses expand globally.  Fifteen to 20 people will serve on the committee, which is expected to form after the chamber hires the new director.
   Charlie Chen, CEO of Richardson-based DFW Technology and a native of Taiwan, served on the task force that first convened nearly two years ago to brainstorm ways to boost Richardson's global presence.  Chen, whose IT company also has offices in China and Taiwan, plans to serve on the new advisory committee. He spends time each week visiting with international business leaders with an interest in Richardson, and he believes the city could attract more companies with a consistent, streamlined communication strategy.
   "We need to prepare for businesses coming in, and we also need to prepare ourselves to reach out," Chen said. "I hope this focal point will allow us to deal with both sides."
by Ann Marie Shambaugh
Dallas Morning News/Richardson
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