Rowan prof leads American Turkish Chamber of Commerce; Organization's multi-state kickoff planned for June

Dr. Ihsan Isik loves his homeland of Turkey. He loves his adopted land of the United States, too.

Dr. Ihsan Isik loves his homeland of Turkey. He loves his adopted land of the United States, too.

Now he is trying to bridge the two countries in a very tangible way: via commerce.

Isik, a professor of finance in the Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J., is chairman and CEO of the American Turkish Chamber of Commerce (ATCOM), headquartered in Cherry Hill.

ATCOM is an alliance of about 200 Turkish and American firms operating mainly in the Mid-Atlantic region in various sectors of the economy, such as food, construction, transportation, banking, real estate, insurance, law and healthcare.

The professor founded the chamber to promote networking, training and collaborative efforts among its members and affiliates as well as to promote trade links among firms in Turkey, Europe and the United States. ATCOM currently serves as the U.S. representative office of the Independent Industrialist and Businessmen Association (MUSIAD), the largest civil business association in Turkey. ATCOM also is part of the World Turkish Business Council, an initiative of the Union of Chambers and Exchanges of Turkey.

ATCOM will host more than 100 Turks, Turkish-Americans and others, including the Turkish counsel general and the Turkish trade attaché based in New York City, at a series of kickoff events planned for June 1 through 8 in Glassboro, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C. and beyond. (The reception at Rowan University will be held in the Chamberlain Student Center’s Eynon Ballroom on Wednesday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m.) They represent the fields of agriculture, architecture, construction, environmental services, food, law, medical equipment, real estate, security, textiles and more.

Isik, who has taught at Rowan since 2001 and founded the group in 2008, started ATCOM in part out of concern that the United States and Turkey have a limited volume of trade, which he projected at $16 billion — or the equivalent of that between Turkey and Iraq.

“I like both countries, and these countries have been allies for a long time,” said Isik, who noted his group is the largest Turkish trade organization in the United States. The only other place in the world with a more limited trade relationship with Turkey that the United States is Antarctica, Isik said. He’d like to see that change.

Turkey, the professor noted, has the 15th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest in Europe. His homeland is noted in particular for producing automotives, textiles, marble and leather.

Stronger ties between his two countries, Isik said, is especially important in New Jersey, which he said has the largest concentration of Turkish immigrants — about 100,000 out of an estimated 350,000 living in the U.S. “New Jersey can be a gateway for Turkish businesses,” said Isik, who writes regularly for a Turkish daily newspaper and magazine that hits Central Asia.

Isik earned a Ph.D. in financial economics and an M.A. in economics from the University of New Orleans; an M.S. in finance from Texas Tech University; a diploma in banking and insurance from the Banking and Insurance School, Ankara, Turkey; and a B.S. in management from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. He serves as an advisor to the Board of the Central Bank of Turkey and vice president of the Federation of Turkish American Associations. He has published and presented extensively on finance topics throughout the world.