Khon Kaen is the commerce and political center of Northeastern Thailand, and is well known for the silk that is manufactured in the area. Khon Kaen is the home of tennis sensation Khun Paradorn Srichaphan.┬áThe province is also home of Thailand’s First Olympic Gold Medalist, the 1996 bantam weight Khun Somluck Kamsing. Located in the heart of the northeast region of Thailand (Isaan), this community was experiencing one of the fastest growth rates in Thailand until the baht was devalued in 1997. In the last several years, construction has restarted within the city, including the widening of Mitraphap Road on the west side of Khon Kaen (Highway 2 Bangkok-Nong Khai). The present population of the city is around 150,000. The government had endorsed Khon Kaen as the export center for trade into the Indo-China Region, but politics may play a role in preventing this. Laos and Vietnam have located consulate offices in the city to process visa applications. The city also hosts the largest university in the North East, Khon Kaen University.