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Chairman Lee leading Cobb group to Seoul

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Tim Lee

County Chairman Tim Lee and other community leaders are preparing for another trip to Seoul, South Korea, to strengthen education and economic ties between the “sister cities.”

Lee said the group will leave Oct. 12 and return the following Thursday.

County spokesman Robert Quigley said among those in attendance will be Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tony Britton; Walton High School principal Judy McNeill; Marietta City Schools Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck; county economic development director Michael Hughes; Sunny Park, president of the America Korea Friendship Society; Dr. Robin Dorff, dean of the Kennesaw State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Dr. Carolyn Dorff, a music instructor at KSU.

Cobb County and Seongdong-gu, a district in Seoul, have had a sister-city relationship since 2007.

The relationship began when former Chairman Sam Olens and an acquaintance of his, businessman and Korea native Sunny Parks, discussed creating a partnership with the two governments. With support from community leaders, the collaboration was born.

Lee said this will be his second visit.

“It’s a two-pronged trip,” Lee said. “You have an educational factor and an economic development factor and a tourism factor, so Monday morning we will meet with the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce, and the convention bureau I think is on Tuesday.”

Lee said Cobb will be signing an agreement with the South Korean district’s Chamber of Commerce to make it an official extension of the Cobb Chamber, “to be able to communicate with the businesses looking to expand in the United States.”

Lee will also meet with half a dozen South Korean companies planning to expand to the U.S.

“We’re going to meet with companies and tell our story as to why we’d like for them to come to Cobb primarily, but Georgia significantly,” he said.

Lee said he doesn’t know of any jobs created as a result of the sister city program.

Lembeck said she visited the South Korea district in 2010. For the last three years, students from the Seongdong-gu School District have attended summer school programs at Marietta High, she said.

“I’ll be going there to sign an official memorandum of understanding with the Seongdong-gu School District so that we can formalize a partnership which will enable us not only to maintain the current relationship that we have with the summer program but would help us to expand it so that in the future it is possible that their students would come to Marietta and our students would come to Seongdong-gu while school was actually in session,” she said.

Quigley said the only expense to the county for the trip is about $1,500 for Hughes’ airfare. Everyone else’s plane tickets will be paid for by the attendee or the organization they represent, and host officials will be paying for the group’s room and board.

“This type of global exchange is important not just for students now because it’s an enriching experience, but I think it will also enable students to be better prepared for economic relationships in their future,” Lembeck said. “The world is smaller. In fact, one of the benefits of now having a more formalized program with them is that our students even when they’re not together will be able to keep up through the use of technology.”

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal, September 21, 2012. Written by Jon Gillooly. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Chairman Lee leading Cobb group to Seoul )

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