Empowering the Korean-American Business Community
For the past 40 years, The Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (“KACCOC”) has played a vital role within the Korean business community. The role of the chambers has evolved to address the shift in demographics and strong contributions Koreans have made to the greater economy. No longer is the chamber limited to serving Korean “mom and pop” businesses in need of English assistance or help navigating though bookkeeping and licensing, but has evolved to serve as a bridge between Korean and mainstream businesses, local governments, and those looking to harness the power of the Korean business community. The chamber develops programs and workshops to empower Korean-American business owners as as providing access for mainstream business wanting to do business with those in the Korean community.
We sat down with the president of the Korean American Chamber, Ho-El Park to learn more about the chamber and its upcoming Asian Business Expo.
OCKorean: Tell us about yourself
Ho-El: I am a 1.5 generation Korean American and the 40th president of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (“KACCOC”). My day job is a lawyer mainly practicing business and real estate law.
OCKorean: Tell us about the Korean American Chamber of Commerce Orange County (KACCOC)
Ho-El: Established in 1978, KACCOC has been serving the Korean business community for 40 years. KACCOC serves as the bridge between Korean and the mainstream community. Our mission is to promote the success and advancement of our members through networking, education, advocacy and collaboration with all of Orange County area community.
OCKorean: What are some of the major accomplishments KACCOC has achieved?
Ho-El: Over the past 40 years, some of our accomplishments include building a Korean District Monument in Garden Grove, starting a Korean Cultural Festival in Orange County, partnering up with Hanyang University in Korea to launch a Global CEO program here in Orange County, and holding business education seminars by various professionals, civic servants, and elected officials. In 2011, KACCOC partnered up with Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce to start the Orange County Asian Business Expo (“OCABE”).
OCKorean: Why did the chamber begin the Orange County Asian Business Expo?
Ho-El: We recognize that Orange County has one of the largest Asian populations in the country and is growing exponentially as we speak. It’s hard to find places where Asian businesses have not yet surfaced. The Asian businesses are no longer the small “mom and pop” stores but leaders and innovators in various industries, reshaping the mainstream economy, locally and internationally! There is a rising interest in Asian businesses and the community’s continual desire to discover ways to learn more about them. Through the expo, we not only want to celebrate the success of the Asian Businesses in Orange County but to provide an opportunity for the participants and attendees to explore other ethnic markets and increase market/customer base.
OCKorean: Is there a theme for the Asian Business Expo this year?
Ho-El: Yes, the theme is the “Taste and Beauty of Asia”. It’s apparent that the Asian beauty products and food are exploding in the mainstream market. We hope to attract more vendors and attendees to experience the increasing popularity of beauty and food products of Asian companies.
OCKorean: Who are some of the participants in this Asian Business Expo?
Ho-El: So far, we’ve confirmed that major companies like Smart & Final, Nongshim, and Costco are attending. We also have some franchises like 7 Leaves Café and Honeymee. The list is growing and you can only find out if you attend!
OCKorean: Who should attend this year’s expo?
Ho-El: Everyone! However, this event would be ideal and beneficial to those who want to expose their products to the OC mainstream but do not have much funds or network to do so. It would be a great way to introduce their products and perhaps find other B2B connections to launch and spread them throughout the mainstream end-buyers.
OCKorean: Is there a cost to attend?
Ho-El: If you are just attending, it is free, but you have to register through theasianbusinessexpo.com. There will be free give away items and items for purchase on the spot. If you are a vendor, you can purchase a booth, advertise via the LED screen and/or the program booklet.
OCKorean: What makes this expo unique compared to other expos?
Ho-El: This expo is a true collaboration. We have partnered with nearly every Asian American business organizations, such as the Vietnamese American Chambers, Friends of Thailand, China/US Business Association, and Hong Kong Association of California, just to name a few. We have also partnered mainstream local chambers throughout Orange County such as Irvine Chambers, North Orange County Chambers and Garden Grove Chambers. This strong collaboration makes us the most unique business expo in not only Orange County, but throughout the state of California.
OCKorean: What benefits can be seen by participating in this Expo?
Ho-El: This is a great opportunity for anyone to have direct access and contact with businesses that would otherwise be inaccessible and unapproachable. There’s no doubt that “face-to-face” networking is better than communicating via the Internet and social media. Accordingly, the success of this event depends on the level of everyone’s “participation”. I hope that all of the attendees would stop by each booth and take a good 10 minutes or so to learn about the participating businesses. Attendees should also mingle and get to know each other better, including our VIPs (local community leaders, elected officials, etc.)
OCKorean: How can one participate or learn more about the Asian Business Expo?
Ho-El: Go to TheAsianBusinessExpo.com or kaccoc.org.
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