Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vallejo business symposium welcomes Filipino delegation

Vallejo business symposium welcomes Filipino delegation
Article Launched: 09/12/2008
By LANZ CHRISTIAN BAñES/Times-Herald staff writer

Filipino Congressman Mauricio G. Domogan speaks at the first Business and Economic Development Symposium on Thursday at the Farragut Inn. Domogan was part of a group of Filipino delegates from Baguio, Vallejo's sister city, and was previously the mayor of Baguio. (Lanz Christian Bañes/Times-Herald)

Farragut Inn at Touro University became a center of international accord Thursday when a delegation from Vallejo's sister city in the Philippines met with local leaders.

At its first Business and Economic Development Symposium, the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Solano County invited local business members to meet with the delegation about stimulating the local economy. The Filipino delegation of local politicians and businessmen - many in traditional and formal barong shirts - was from Baguio.

Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis, a keynote speaker, was pleased at the event's diversity. He noted how Vallejo often seems segregated because some members of various ethnic groups participate only in their own cultural events.

"For those who are not Filipino, thank you for attending this function," Davis said.

The local economy's revitalization would come only after the government assessed consumer and business needs and desires, Davis said.

Several speakers advised individuals and small businesses on how to give life to the local economy in the context of increasing globalization.

"The little things that we do here ... have a global impact," said Jim Mitchell, public relations director at Touro University.

Mitchell cited Sept. 11 as an example that more than just New York City was affected by the attacks, which had global repercussions.

Mitchell discussed the university's expansion on Mare Island's north side. The project will include a state-of-the-art cancer research center, and will generate 4,000 jobs in construction alone, with 6,000 jobs created after the project is completed. In taxes and fees alone, the project will generate $4 million for the city, Mitchell said.

Johnny De La Cruz, president of the Baguio-Benguet Chamber of Commerce, stressed eliminating the bureaucracy that could potentially hold up businesses from their operations, and making government more friendly to business.

"In Baguio, we have a one-stop shop," De La Cruz said, referring to the city's one-day turn around for business registration.

In contrast, Vallejo Councilman Hermie Sunga joked about the difficulties that businesses have in his city.

"We also ... have a one-stop shop here in Vallejo," Sunga said. "Once they hit the first shop, they stop."

Sunga added that Vallejoans aren't too proud to accept help and advice from the Filipino delegation.

De La Cruz touted the Philippines as an ideal country with which to have business relations, citing its location as a gateway to the rest of Asia. He added that U.S. companies see a 30-40 percent reduction in costs from the Philippines' more business-friendly climate.

Davis had a similar message, saying that government and businesses should work together for the benefit of the community.

"I don't think the two should be separated," Davis said.

This includes creating incentives that might be unpopular and could be seen as "selling the house," he said.

This theme of more government involvement was echoed by Michael Ammann's lecture. Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, decried the demise of the California Department of Commerce and the lack of an overarching economic plan for the state.

Vallejo community members and the Baguio delegation were also eager to foster a student exchange program between the two cities. Filipino Congressman Mauricio G. Domogan, former mayor of Baguio, is specifically passionate about training medical students, since he lost his mother at an early age because doctors were unavailable.

• E-mail Lanz Christian Bañes at lbanes@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6833.

• The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Solano County presented the symposium, and is a sister chamber of the Baguio-Benguet Chamber of Commerce.
• Baguio and Vallejo have been sister cities since 1993.

• There are 11 Baguio delegation members, and most are being housed by host families in Vallejo and will be here through the weekend.

• For more information, visit www.solanofilmchamber.com.