WMU News

Federal funds put focus on business in South Asia

June 15, 2005

KALAMAZOO--A new two-year federal grant will put the spotlight on developing stronger relationships with South Asia and China for both Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business and business leaders in Southwest Michigan.

The college's "South Asia and China Education Program" will receive more than $160,000 from the U.S. Department of Education's Business and International Education Program. The project is designed to increase faculty expertise and student awareness of business conditions in the region and provide Southwest Michigan firms with access to information that will give them a competitive edge in conducting business in South Asia.

The funds will allow the college to focus on the region through a series of initiatives that include a new Global Business Lecture Series; faculty research, travel and development grants; graduate and undergraduate curriculum development; expanded internship opportunities; and study programs in China, India and Pakistan for students, faculty and local business people.

The effort will conclude with an Asian business conference slated for summer 2007. The conference will focus on developing positive trade relationships with South Asia.

"There's a great deal of concern about globalization and business being lost to China and South Asia," says Dr. Zahir Quraeshi, professor of marketing who co-directs the project with two colleagues. "But it is a misplaced concern, because as those economies grow, they'll become larger markets for the United States. Our focus will be on preparing students, faculty and area businesses to take advantage of the new opportunities."

Directing the project with Quraeshi are accounting professor Dr. Roger Tang, the Upjohn Chair in Business Administration, and Dr. Mushtaq Luqmani, professor of marketing. In addition to leading activities on campus, the three will lead intensive study programs to countries in which they have particular expertise. The trips are expected to attract other faculty, students and business representatives from across Southwest Michigan. The first of the trips will be to China and will include stops in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. Tang will lead that trip, which is scheduled for summer 2006. Quraeshi and Luqmani will lead a summer 2007 journey to India and Pakistan.

"These will be total immersion experiences for those who are part of the travel group," Quraeshi says. "We've done these in the past and they've been very successful. They tend to lead to close and lasting relationships."

For most members of the business community, the first benefits of the program will be experienced this fall when a Global Business Lecture Series begins on campus. The series will feature business leaders with experience and expertise in South Asia and China. The series, which will run for both years of the initiative, is a response to an expressed need in the area for specific and pragmatic advice about doing business in the region. Speakers will be from both the public and private sectors, and each event will include ample time for questions and answers.

The entire initiative has the support of local economic development and business support groups as well as state organizations such as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Commerce. To accomplish the goals of the project, the directors also have partnership agreements with colleges and universities in India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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