Macon chamber of commerce's Cherry making business trip to China

“Huan yíng” is something Chip Cherry is hoping he will be able to say in the future to businesses that may want to locate in Bibb County.

While there are several variations, it means “welcome” in Chinese.

Cherry, president/CEO of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, is leaving today for a nine-day trip to various cities in China.

“The trip is a blend of peer meetings to discuss trends in our industry, learning about cultural drivers that impact business relationships, and developing relationships that have the potential to benefit our communities,” Cherry said.

Monterey Park, Calif.-based Citslinc International Inc., which invited Cherry, specializes in facilitating trips for chambers of commerce, trade mission groups and others to go to China, he said. The Macon chamber is one of 39 metropolitan chambers (a member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association) from around the country represented on the trip. The Albany area chamber is the only other one from Georgia.

Citslinc makes the arrangements and handles everything for one price. Cherry only has to pay to get to Los Angeles and about $400 for other fees, and he’s paying these costs since the chamber is trying to keep expenses down.

His trip will take him to Beijing, where he will visit Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall, and to the cities of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. The trip includes visits and/or meals with various government officials and business executives.

Part of the reason Cherry decided to take the trip is because he learned during negotiations with Korea-based Kumho Tire that he needed to understand better the various customs and expectations of the company’s executives. Later this year Kumho is building its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Bibb County.

“So when I had the opportunity to go to China and be able to spend some time and learn more about business practices and customs that are unique to China, I thought it would be extremely valuable,” he said.

The chamber has worked with a couple of companies based in China, but “we haven’t been successful yet,” Cherry said.

“When we get to the point when we have that opportunity, I will have a much better understanding and better represent the community in that particular process,” he said. “Another thing that’s beneficial, as with most Asian cultures, it’s relationship driven. I’m looking forward to it.”