Posts Tagged ‘missouri’

Several Columbia firms have found a foothold in China, one of the world’s most massive markets.

How is this possible? Columbia isn’t on the coast, where you might think of industries turning to foreign markets.

Instead, Columbia and mid-Missouri is home to exceptional entrepreneurs who look beyond today and local, state and even national boundaries. This article outlines tips and some cautionary tales to help others access the Chinese market.

For example, Environmental Dynamics Inc. has been doing business in this Asian country for more than 10 years. During that time Jerry Conner of that company says they’ve learned the most crucial factor in doing business in China is guanxi or networking. The Chinese, he said, want to know they are going to see you and your firm again. They want to know about your firm, you and who you know that they might know.

That means if you want to work in China, you’ll need patience and diligence to establish guanxi.

It also means you may need help to get started. Jason Van Eaton of Spectrum Consulting Group saw this need as a business opportunity. Today, the firm started three years ago is working with 20 companies to help them break into the China market.

Alex LaBrunerie of LaBrunerie Financial launched Rising Tide to access investment information after deciding that the China market was the next big thing. The first thing he did was network and he found right here in Columbia someone who knew a major Chinese expert in that country’s equity investment information industry.

Russ Potterfield is so certain China is where he needs to be to help his company, Battenfeld Technologies, thrive he moved his whole family to Shenzhen, China, including his wife, who had to interrupt her own career teaching at Westminster College, and his three young sons. The move might seem extreme, but only to those who can’t see the future.

Of course, all these business people have their eyes open. They know that there are things to watch out for. But that didn’t stop them and the advice they offer should help other Columbia entrepreneurs access the Asian markets.

As Van Eaton said, a business already has a strategy to get into China or it will in five years. And then, he noted, it could be too late.

 

 

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Should cultural diversity be considered an economic development tool? Perhaps.

In this article about Rising Tide and the Asian Equity Research Institute (AERI), a research center at the University of Missouri, Alex LaBrunerie, one of the principals behind both of these organizations, credited Columbia’s cultural diversity for making both of these businesses a reality.

That’s because it was through a connection with a Chinese national who was working for a friend of his that he made contact with one of the major players in the Chinese equity information business. That’s how a small city in mid-Missouri (Columbia, population 100,000) has developed two local organizations to tap into the growing powerhouse of the Chinese economy.

Read the entire article here: Jan. 7, 2011, LaBrunerie’s Leverage, Columbia Business Times. How a small financial services company in Columbia landed major players for a Chinese equity research center to help investors understand the world’s second largest economy.

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Columbia, Missouri is replete with energetic entrepreneurs, but the most lively person I’ve interviewed so far is Russ Potterfield. Before leaving for China to accompany my husband David J. O’Brien to a convention where he was giving a presentation.

When I learned Russ, a local businessman, had opened an office in China just this summer, I quickly made plans, via email, to meet with him. After all, how many Columbia companies have offices in China? Turns out more than you might think.

At any rate, despite the demands of opening on overseas office, Russ took several hours to meet with me, describe all the amazing opportunities his new venture was providing for him and his family. For me, it was an amazing opportunity to meet such an energetic, farseeing individual.

Once again, I feel I am so lucky to be a journalist and have the opportunity to write about local, well kind of local, businesses and the people operating them. Congrats on the new office, Russ.

Dec. 24, 2010, Russ Potterfield’s China presence proving profitable Battenfeld improves logistics with satellite office, Columbia Business Times.

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One of the things I love about journalism is how it helps me and readers see new connections by bringing information together, in this case, the history and economics of movie theatres.

I’ve lived in Columbia twice, once from 1991-1995, then from 1998 until now, but I never realized that the beautiful theatre buildings on Ninth Street revealed literally the concrete results of the roaring 1920s.

During the 1920s, thousands of movie theaters were built across the country. Actually, these buildings were called movie palaces because that’s what they were — ornate, beautiful, fanciful buildings where people went to see the developing medium, moving picture shows.

But what goes up must come down, which explains why by the time I moved to Columbia, the former Hall Theatre was vacant, the Missouri Theatre was struggling and the former Varsity Theatre had not yet become the successful live music venue, The Blue Note.

After the roaring 1920s, the Great Depression came along and decades later, television and the move to the suburbs were other changes that explain why so many downtown movie palaces were left vacant or converted to other uses.

By 1962, the number of movie theaters had fallen to 9,150, down from 14,716 in 1954. As one source noted, the glut of buildings in the 1920s led to the glut of demolition in the 1950s and 1960s.

But I think the wave of destruction is over. Today, the Hall Theatre houses the Panera Bread Company, The Blue Note continues to be a successful live music venue and the chief of operations at the Missouri Theatre has a plan designed to solve its financial problems.

This connection to the roaring 1920s was not visible to me until reporting connected the dots along Ninth Street. That’s why journalism, in which information is put into context, is so important.

Read the two-page package published on June 25, 2010 in the Columbia Business Times either at this link or below.

CBT Columbia Cinema Evolution p1 062510

CBT Columbia Cinema Evolution p2 062510

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Measuringworth.com is a web site where you can use a variety of calculators to determine how much something was worth historically.

For example, in the book I’m wrote with Charles W. Gehrke before his death about his life, his career and his accomplishments, he told me he’d raised roughly $200,000 to get what is now called ABC Labs going in 1968. Naturally, I wondered first how he did that — that answer is in the book, “From the Melon Fields to the Moon,” to be published.

Then, I wondered how much $200,000 would be worth today. That answer I found at measuringworth.com, using one of their calculators to determine the value of currency at various time periods.

The answer is $200,000 in 1968 would have been worth roughly $1.1 million in 2007 dollars, according to MeasuringWorth.com.

A tool like measuringworth.com can help a reporter provide context to an article or a book.  And that, in my opinion, is one of the jobs journalists are supposed to do: provide context to help make the world understandable to readers.

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What I love about journalism is helping people make sense out of things that are happening, such as historic renovation.

Many of us love old buildings, but as the song says, sometimes we also ask ourselves what’s love gotta to do with it.

That’s when it is nice to be able to point to research and information that shows certain things also make economic sense. And that’s what this article does with historic renovation. Columbia’s City Council’s Historic Preservation names properties to a list of Notable Properties every year. For years I’ve been going to the gala event where they announce the new names to the list.

This year I wrote this article outlining how naming these properties and supporting restoration of such buildings actually helps all of us economically.

Read the article here:

http://www.columbiabusinesstimes.com/7099/2010/02/19/notable-properties/

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My first 10 years at work were spent as a secretary, time served before computers. I even fetched a cup of coffee or two for an executive. Finally, I returned to college and attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where I received a degree in journalism and in women’s studies.

I found my first job as a reporter with the Gaffney Ledger in Gaffney, South Carolina, where I covered everything from the Peach Festival to the school district. I then went to South Korea for a year and taught conversational English at Pusan National University, where I learned that teaching, like soccer, is more difficult than it looks.

I returned to the United States to attend graduate school at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where I fell in love with the hands-on Missouri Method and journalism all over again.

I received my master’s degree in 1993 and went to work for the Columbia Missourian as an editor and then for two daily newspapers before returning to Columbia to oversee the public outreach portion of a federally funded arthritis project at the University of Missouri

Then I moved to Moscow, Russia, for a year where I began my freelance career by writing for English-language publications there.

My Russian sojourn came courtesy of my husband’s Fulbright Scholarship award for 2003-2004, and we lived in a Soviet-style apartment of three tiny rooms and from there, I wrote for PASSPORT Moscow magazine and The Moscow News.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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