Oden takes part in economic development trip to Taiwan

CONYERS — Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden has been invited to take part in a 10-day economic development trip to Taiwan.

Oden is among 11 local government executives invited by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, embassy of the Republic of China – Taiwan, in Washington, D.C., to take part in the trip between Aug. 31 and Sept. 9.

According to the county, the purpose of the trip is economic development, including working to promote locating businesses and services in Rockdale County.

The trip is funded by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. According to the county, a total of $707 in county funds was expended for a $539 upgrade to Oden’s roundtrip flight, $130 for 1,000 business cards in Chinese and $38 for small gifts. According to the county, the flight upgrade was purchased in order for the chairman to be as comfortable as possible for the 15-plus-hour flights due to some past injuries.

“I am honored to be invited through the relationship with the Taiwanese that I have built over the last four years,” Oden said in a written statement. “To be selected as one of the 11 people to represent the S.E. United States of America on this most honorable business trade mission behooves me. The Taiwanese are strong proponents of relationship and integrity.”

The chairman’s trip had not been announced to the public until the Tuesday Board of Commissioners meeting when Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt asked in closing comments for prayer for safe travel for the chairman.

“I really didn’t want the cat to get out of the bag,” Oden said in response. “The foreign minister of the Republic of China invited 10 people plus myself, 11 people from across the country, to go to a trade exposition to look at opportunities. You will continue to hear me talk about bio science, life science, pharmaceuticals, digital communication. So this will be an opportunity for Rockdale County to at least begin dialogue to create a sister city, sister country, and begin to look at how we can bring commerce, how we can bring businesses into Rockdale County.”