- Anne Marie Boger, Weblink & Marketing Specialist
Natalie Harden honored to represent South Denver overseas
Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (TECO) of Taiwan hold 8 offices in the United States, each covering different regions. So when the TECO office of Kansas City moved to Denver in April of this year, the city was overjoyed. “This move is recognition of Denver’s growing importance as an international city,” said Natalie Harden, Director of Public Policy and Economic Development. The move was in tandem with TECO’s 2015 Young Leaders Delegation – an event in which influential young professionals from around the U.S. are nominated and then selected to visit Taiwan in efforts to develop a good-will relationship with the States.
“Taiwan welcomes visitors to their country to celebrate its uniqueness,” Natalie states, and explained the goal of the trip was to strengthen the ties between Taiwan and the U.S.
Natalie joined the group of 12 public policy, economic, and business professionals, with the goal of exploring international trade opportunities for Colorado companies. Not shy of travel, Natalie has been to Germany, Spain, France, Hungary, Austria, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, and Taiwan was a great addition to her list of excursions. When we got a chance to discuss the trip with her, we couldn’t wait to gather all the details.
What was something that surprised you? I was taken aback by many things, but in a good way. There’s about 50% female participation in Taiwan’s Legislature – and that’s mandatory. There’s also a high percentage of females in business. That’s fantastic. The country is a democracy, and they’re very proud of that. It’s rare in Southeast Asia.
What were your days like? What were you doing? The trip was a lot of meetings! There were about 2-3 meetings in the morning, lunch, and then 2-3 meetings in the afternoon. These were held with political leaders, economists, trade policy specialists, and professors. There were numerous discussions about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Taiwan’s desire to be a part of it. Conversations about Taiwan’s industries were also big; what their labor markets look like, birth rates, the high percentage of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Essentially we were trying to discover new business ventures between the U.S. and Taiwan.
What fascinating industry statistics. Yes, lots of surprises. They have a large amount of foreign direct investments in other countries. Small business is also a huge part of the culture. About 80% of businesses are 20 or fewer employees; 90% of the workforce is in small business. And the population is right around 28 million people.
Did conducting business in Taiwan feel similar to conducting it in the United States? There are definitely similarities and differences. Business is very polite and formal. When you hand someone your card, you bow a little. It’s a part of who you are, so the card is treated respectfully. I also received lots of gifts! Tea sets, business card holders, things of that nature. Gifts are a big part of conducting business.
You sounded very busy. Did you get a chance to do anything fun? Actually, yes! We went to the National Palace Museum. We ate all kinds of fun food, went to a night market, which was like a carnival-meets-street fair and it runs all year round. We visited the 9.2.1. Earthquake Museum, had a beautiful overnight getaway in Sunmoon Lake. We visited the Legislative Yuan, which is Taiwan’s Congress. It was amazing stuff. Oh, and I can’t fail to mention, we stayed in a 5-star hotel in Taipei. Taipei was a great city. A hustle and bustle. There were fleets of people on mopeds, bicyclists on the sidewalk, and the city was so clean. Spotless.
Did you visit the American Chamber of Commerce Taipei? Absolutely. It runs much like the South Metro Denver Chamber – lots of galas and events, lots of committees. They compiled an impressive magazine about doing business in Taiwan. There were Americans and Taiwanese working there. The chamber was truly fun to see.
The South Metro Denver Chamber considers it an honor that one of their employees represented south metro Denver as well as the state of Colorado. We are committed to our Global Commerce Initiative as well as increasing international opportunities for our members.