CHARLOTTE -- At a time when some are accusing President Donald Trump of starting a trade war, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Holly Ham is coming to Charlotte this weekend, speaking with local Asian businesses and community leaders.
Asian-American and Asian-based companies are becoming a key economic driver for Charlotte.
"[Asian companies] have customers based in the U.S. already," VP of economic development & Asian development for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Eileen Cai said. "So it makes sense, business sense, for them to come to the us."
The Chamber has made annual trips to China since 2008, helping grow Chinese businesses in and around Charlotte from 5 to 44.
"We go after any industry," Cai said. "Charlotte is strong in manufacturing, energy finance."
Now, Asians are the fastest growing racial group in Mecklenburg County, increasing 146 percent since 2000, with Chinese-born population growing 220 percent.
The Charlotte Chamber's next trip to China in May will focus on recruiting energy companies to the Carolinas.
"This is a very welcome community,” president of the Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce Michael Wang said. “If they have set up manufacturing here they can sell the product directly to U.S. consumers."
Wang said there's interest from several foreign investors in taking advantage of the area's manufacturing infrastructure. In total, 168 Asian-based businesses employ more than 9,000 people in the Charlotte region, according to the Charlotte Chamber.
"So that makes Charlotte a more attractive, more international city," Cai said.