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IC Chamber of Commerce to take India trip

BY NINA EARNEST | FEBRUARY 03, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Iowa City Chamber of Commerce is headed to India.

The voyage — meant to allow Iowa City business leaders to explore foreign opportunities — follows the chamber’s first international trip to China in April 2010.

“The trip to China last year was evidence that local businesses are interested in competing in the global business environment,” said Kelly McCann, the chamber’s director of communications. “We’re responding to that interest.”

McCann called the trip successful and said one business owner had even made a follow-up trip to China.

India, McCann said, is an emerging market in the global economy and a “natural fit” for expanding businesses.

The excursion, scheduled for April 5 to 13, is open to the community and members from both the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids Chambers of Commerce.

Only four spots remain in the 25-person trip.

Costing $2,190 per person — nonmembers pay $200 more — the trip to Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra includes a mixture of sightseeing and corporate tours. The itinerary attempts to balance events geared for participants interested in traveling both for business and leisure.

The cost includes flights from Chicago O’Hare, deluxe hotels, monument entrance fees, airport transfers in India, and even an elephant ride. Participants cover their own costs — the trip is not funded with any taxpayer money.

McCann said the tour with an English-speaking guide allows travelers to experience the international business climate with an organized group before returning for an optional follow-up.

“For those who are interested in conducting business overseas, it’s really important for them to understand the culture,” McCann said.

Overseas excursions can be useful for smaller business owners who may not have time or resources to go themselves, said Paul Heath, from the University of Iowa Small Business Development Center.

“By going with a group of smaller businesses, they can leverage the chamber and meet with some associations or government officials in foreign countries,” he said.

Similar organized trips are common across the country, said Patricia Cook, an international trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Visiting one specific country — such as rising economies India and China — allows business to get a better introduction to a foreign market, she said.

“When companies try to grow outside the U.S. borders, they’re not always recommended to take on the whole world,” Cook said.

But she said Chamber of Commerce trips are some of the more expensive ways to make business contacts abroad. Trade fairs in the United States offer opportunities for businesses to meet international business representatives at a lower, more efficient cost, she said.

Still, she said, she thought the trip represented a change in a widespread Iowa attitude against overseas travel and a new willingness to learn about other countries.

“In order to do business, you need to have some level of sophistication and open-mindedness towards other countries,” Cook said.


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