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SelectUSA 2022 Preparation A Visit with Stephen Cheung, Los Angeles County EDC and WTC Los Angeles

April 11, 2022

Link to podcast found HERE

Transcript to podcast found below:

Bill : Hi, and welcome to the next episode of belly to belly and today we’re going to talk about preparing for select USA. And we’re joined by Stephen Cheung from the LA Economic Development Corporation. So welcome Steven.

Steven : Thank you so much for having me, Bill.

Bill : It’s wonderful to have you and so, you know, LA, DC does so much great work to help drive the Los Angeles economy. You have a particular effort to help international companies coming into the LA region. Can you talk through some of the services that you offer to companies coming into the US and particularly LA?

Steven : Sure. When people look at Los Angeles, sometimes they are overwhelmed by our size, especially international companies that when they think of Los Angeles, they usually think of Hollywood, Hollywood traffic and Hollywood. And what they don’t realize is that we’re home to about 10 point 2 million people just in LA County alone, and they’re at different cities within Los Angeles County. Most most folks when they think of Los Angeles they think of one city Los Angeles City, which is a great city of 4 million people but they already know about other great cities like Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena combined together, you have 10 point 2 million consumers located in one single location and our industry so so diverse. Were the really international trade center when it comes to trade and logistics because we have the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach and number one, the number two container ports in North America. We have a huge aerospace and defense sector, bioscience sectors, clean tech sector, all these other sectors that folks don’t know about. That’s our job with LA, DC. We help them understand the markets that they can go into, and also the complexities between all the various jurisdictions and the municipalities. So between the world trade and Los Angeles as well as the LA, DC, which by the way, the World Trade Center is a component of LA, DC where the international trade arm of LA, DC combined together we provide education information that’s necessary for these international companies to understand how to do business in Los Angeles, and we connect them to our partners so in short, our motto is very simple. We attract, we educate and we connect, we attract the types of companies we want to bring to La we have to understand Los Angeles and then we connect them with the right partners so that they can be successful and entering the markets.

Bill : Oh, that’s brilliant, what a great summary and you know, thinking about the companies that are listening to our podcasts, you know, they’re really interested in understanding the US and sort of so many is, you know, think of San Francisco and they think, you know, Silicon Valley, and they think of New York, and so giving them exposure to you know, all the other great regions of the country and certainly LA is just a massive opportunity with such a great intermodal port and all the all the wonderful high tech industries that are there, um, you know, select USA, you know, LA EDC has been participating in for years, what it can you know, again, thinking of our audience, what is it that you particularly find attractive about Select USA in terms of connecting with companies?

Steven : Well, it’s a great location, a great forum for us to be able to meet international participants from all over the world, not just the companies but also their government representatives as well. At the same time it becomes a very great forum for us to meet other EDOS around the nation to see how we can best learn from each other. There are a lot of synergies that are there that sometimes because of a geographical location, we’re not able to connect as closely and sometimes we see that we’re aligned. For example, we actually worked very closely with our friends over in San Francisco and San Diego, but usually, we don’t really get a chance to work with our California partners, except that Select USA. So this is both an opportunity for us to work with domestically as well as internationally to make sure that we’re connecting with the right partners to plan out our strategies and our work for the next few years.

Bill : Oh, that’s really cool. And I’m thinking about Select USA. One of the features that many companies may not know about are their spin off events and you’re hosting a spin off event. Do you want to give us some highlights as to kind of when your spin off event is and what some of the features and who should be coming to your spin off event?

Steven : Sure. We’ve actually been doing this enough events for many many years now and this partnership with Select USA and what we want to do at the beginning when we first created this spin off events about seven years ago as really highlights the importance of attending Select USA, and we saw that a lot of our partners that are coming into the United States to go to Select USA will have to transfer planes anyways and most of them are actually doing it at LA. So why not create a separate event that is free actually to all international visitors coming to Los Angeles so that we could becomes an additional incentive for them to go to Select USA. So we work with a Select USA team as well as Department of Commerce to ensure that we attract the right types of companies that are wanting to learn about the Los Angeles market. And our select LA Investment Summit this year is going to be on June 22 And June 23 June 22nd is really just a welcome reception party. I think a lot of folks who are coming to Los Angeles, they really want to see Los Angeles. So what we usually do is give them the best of Los Angeles. Over the past few years we’ve had our welcome reception at various Hollywood studios in the backlot, so they’re actually on the movie sets. So we’ve done that at Warner Brothers Universal Studios. And you name it, we just basically kind of rotates but more and more so we’re trying to basically align it with some of the business opportunities are available. So last year, we actually held our welcome reception at the historic Rose Bowl, because our focus last year was on sports entertainment. So it’ll be great for them to see one of the highlights of where it’s entertainment center would be and look at some of the investment opportunities are available at the stadiums themselves. So what we do the next day after the welcome reception is a full day long summit that includes speeches from our elected officials to talk about government policies and how they can basically work with the international community. And then after that, we break out into various sessions really giving the nitty gritty in terms of how do you do business in Los Angeles, what are the sectors what are the trends or the information they need to know about this year in particular, we’re focused on sustainability, because I think our international community understands that investment into Los Angeles in California is important for them because we have been leading the effort in terms of sustainability when it comes to clean technology and clean tech investments. So our focus this year we’ll have various tracks including a track on hydrogen and the entire network that’s going to be built upon that. Also on the electric vehicle, the entire ecosystem that’s surrounding not only the manufacturing of electric vehicle, but what about charging, what about fast charging, what about you know the adapters are necessary. We’re also going to be focused on the circular economy, how do we make sure that we don’t have any waste out of our economic development system? And then finally, we have infrastructure, what infrastructure do you need to build in order for you to basically be sustainable? What kind of major investments coming from the federal government and state government that’s going to support this? All of this combined, will give people a very good sense of how to do business in Los Angeles and what are the opportunities and we’re gonna close it all off with a panel with our local consulates. Many people don’t know but Los Angeles is home to the world’s third largest consulate corps and so we have over 100 countries represented in Los Angeles and we’re going to bring a couple of the consul generals in their teams to really talk about their position here in Los Angeles and what they’re seeing for from their international markets. countries like Japan, the UK, and Canada will be participating and their consul generals will be speaking on behalf of their country in terms of sustainability. How do we actually coordinate with each of them work with each other? So jam packed the event and once we’re done, we all go to Select USA together so that we can now learn about the rest of the United States as well.

Bill : Wow, that’s a really really action packed program. That sounds fantastic. So a last question here and that’s around the thinking of the companies that will be at select USA this year. You know, some have been to the US they already have some operations going. Others this will be their first trip to the US. And, and particularly to select USA, you know, as a seasoned veteran of this event, how would you suggest a company get the most out of the opportunity?

Steven : They have to do their homework. You know, it’s large conferences, a large Summit. There’s a lot of partners that are available. However, if you’re just going into it without knowing who you’re going to meet, it can be easily distracted and you might not be able to meet with the right partners. So it’s important for you to do your homework ahead of time. What we’ve seen that some of the most successful companies international companies are coming in, has contacted WTC Los Angeles and LEDC way before to let us know that they’re going to be there. They’re interested in meeting with us, and they have specific questions for us so that we’re ready to answer those specific questions. Whether it’s about governmental regulation, whether it’s about the markets so that when they’re coming they can get the answers that they need. Otherwise sometimes they are asking the questions on the spot to certain, you know, participants. But if their questions can be a lot more complex, it takes time for research to happen as well. So it can save them time and save them the ability to actually meet more people because if they’re very focused on what they need to do, and they do their homework ahead of time, that would be the best advice I can give.

Bill : I love it. So number one, do your homework, have a plan? Have some pre contact so that you’re enabling whoever you’re looking to partner with to be prepared so that your meetings are really second level meetings at select USA as opposed to introductory and preliminary?

Steven : That’s correct. And then finally, I would say you know, a lot of these business transaction is really about human to human interaction, which we’ve been missing quite a lot over the last two years. And so sometimes what I’ve seen been very successful as even after Select USA, some of the EDOS and their partners and the businesses, they’re actually stay for an extra day. So it will be a great chance for them to have lunch the following day or have dinner just to basically get to know each other because when it comes to business opportunities, there’s nothing that is more valuable than to human human interaction and making those connections directly

Bill : Exactly. Yeah. Know that face to face. trumps everything for sure. So that makes tons of sense. That’s really, really great advice, Steven. I think it’s spot on. It’s wonderful that you took the time today. Is there anything else you’d like to add at all in terms of whether it’s your services or a last message about Select USA?

Steven : Well, I think between Select USA select LA and all this enough events, I think the US economy’s open for international business, and we have always been and we’ve been eagerly anticipating the return of international trade. And a lot more FDI into our region. So we hope that our international audience that’s listening and watching this will come meet us and come see us and we look forward to welcoming welcoming them to Los Angeles for select LA on June 22 to January 3, where we can show off the best of Los Angeles and again, some of the industries I highlight it, it’s just a sample of it. There’s so many more industries that will fit that category and with our big population and one of the things that we always celebrate is that I think right now folks are talking about inclusivity and diversity and how they embrace it. La We don’t only embrace it, we are diversity in incarnates right and to have, for example, an Asian immigrant that’s born in Hong Kong to be able to represent the workplace in Los Angeles and LEDC on the international global stage. That’s who we are as Los Angeles. So we look forward to welcoming everybody to Los Angeles and to select USA to meeting up out there in DC.

Bill : Fantastic, well said, Steven. Well, great. This has been fantastic. We’ll make sure to put your contact info and your organization’s info in the description and certainly our audience like and subscribe so you stay in touch with all the great content. But thank you, Steven, and thank you from our audience as well. This is great information

Steven : Thank you bill.