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Virginia Commerce and Trade Secretary to Launch Confucius Institute Lecture Series

By Jon Cawley

The Confucius Institute at Old Dominion is launching its Great Discussion Series on Wednesday, Nov. 20, with a lecture by Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng.

In his current role, Cheng manages 13 agencies focused on promoting growth in Virginia's business community and attracting new investments in the state economy. He has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and government contracting, and is active in "angel investment" and early-stage entrepreneurial ventures of various types. Most recently, he was the president of Totus Lighting Solutions, a startup efficient-energy firm, and mentored several emerging companies.

At ODU, Cheng will discuss "Virginia-China Foreign Trade and Investment Opportunities."

"It is well known that China has one of the world's fastest-growing economies, therefore interest in business opportunities with Chinese companies is particularly strong in Virginia," said Qiu Jin Hailstork, executive director of the Confucius Institute at ODU. "We believe Secretary Cheng's lecture, and the Great Discussion Series in a broader sense, will be attractive to students, entrepreneurs and others who want to learn more about how our countries' common interests can translate into mutually beneficial economic advantages."

The 7:30 p.m. lecture, which is co-sponsored by the ODU China Center, is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, on Hampton Boulevard. Parking will be available in the 43rd Street garage.

Those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP by Nov. 18 to 683-3116 or online at the University Events website (Event code: CCL13). For questions, call 683-7059.

According to his staff bio: "From 1994-2005, Cheng was founder and CEO of CHM, a government contracting company specializing in Information Technology, which he grew from a staff of five people to 550 and $90 million in revenue at the time of its sale in 2005. In 1999, his company was named Virginia Business Magazine's fastest growing private company in Virginia and the 12th fastest growing private U.S. company in Inc. Magazine's 'Inc. 500.' In 2001, he was named southeast Virginia's KPMG Entrepreneur of the Year. From 1981-1994 at ECI, a government IT contracting firm, Cheng held various management and technical positions, eventually becoming Sr. Vice President of Marketing."

Cheng was a board member of the Virginia Small Business Finance Authority from 1999 to 2007 and is currently a trustee of the Darden School Foundation at the University of Virginia and a member of the ODU Educational Foundation board. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from ODU, a master's in business administration from the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business (UVA) and a law degree from Georgetown University.

When the Confucius Institute opened earlier this year, ODU joined an elite group of only 70 U.S. host academic institutions. Confucius Institutes exist for three main purposes: to facilitate the instruction of the Chinese language at the host university and in public and private schools within each institute's geographic area; to impart knowledge of Chinese history, literature, the arts and other aspects of Chinese culture; and to create, through the promotion of language and understanding of China as a country, partnerships that foster mutual understanding between the United States and China.

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