A Win-Win for Korean American Small Businesses and the Seattle Economy


When it comes to international trade, we don’t usually think of small businesses and immigrant communities.

But the untapped potential of these two demographic groups is the focus of a US Small Business Administration conference in Seattle on Wednesday and Thursday. The effort, in conjunction with Greater Seattle Partners, a public-private economic development firm, the Port of Seattle and the State Department of Commerce, aims to help local Korean American businesses find new resale opportunities in Korea. .

This is the first in-person event hosted by the SBA in the country to kick-start small business exports among diaspora communities. An earlier virtual event focused on Colombia and Latin America was much smaller.

The SBA focused on Korean Americans in Seattle for a variety of reasons. This region has one of the largest Korean American populations in the United States. There are many prominent Korean American political leaders here, including former city council member Martha Choe, Seattle Port Commissioner Sam Cho and former deputy mayor Hyeok Kim. More than 40,000 people in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area were born in Korea.

South Korea exported more than $4.5 billion to the Seattle area last year, mostly automotive and industrial products. In turn, we have exported more than $2 billion to South Korea, mainly agricultural, aerospace and industrial machinery products.

The SBA wants to help reduce export barriers for small Korean American businesses. By accessing loans and grants, Korean American companies could translate websites or pay for visits to trade shows.

Boosting exports and lowering trade barriers “would be a boon for the state, especially at a time when we are experiencing inflation and trying to avoid an economic downturn,” according to the SBA documents.

While only 13.2% of the US population are first-generation immigrants, they make up 20.6% of all US business owners. It makes sense to help them resell to their old compatriots on e-commerce and other platforms. This can only benefit the economy of all Americans.

Hosting the event in a Pacific city like Seattle also has clear geopolitical ramifications. As China threatens Taiwan and tensions rise, growing US-South Korean ties show another way: friendly relations that go beyond diplomacy and big business to benefit small ones. expatriate retailers and entrepreneurs.

The SBA views this week’s event as a “down payment” on continued local economic development for Seattle’s diaspora community. If successful, the dividends could create new jobs, strengthen ties between nations and offer a bright alternative to the gloom of conflict and fear.

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