The fourth annual Americas Competitiveness Forum that concluded Nov. 16 was Atlanta’s last, at least for the next few years. Management of the event has been handed over to a regional network that selected the Dominican Republic for the 2011 meeting.
The forum, held Nov. 14-16 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, will be organized from now on by the Inter-American Competitiveness Network, a group comprised of the heads of national competitiveness councils throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The network’s current president, Dominican Republic Competitiveness Council Executive Director Andres Van der Horst, told GlobalAtlanta that the network will organize future forums, selecting a rotating venue for the annual event that aims to foster economic development in the hemisphere through innovation and education. The network’s presidency is passed on each year to the head of the hosting national competitiveness council.
“The baby has come out of the cradle,” said Jose Ignacio Gonzalez, the 2010 forum’s executive secretary and executive director of CIFAL Atlanta, a training center for government and civil society leaders.
With support from CIFAL, the City of Atlanta and the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration organized the first two forums in 2007 and 2008, both of which were held in Atlanta. The 2009 forum was held in Santiago, Chile, where the Chilean Ministry of Economy was the primary organizer, with CIFAL still heavily involved in the event.
The Dominican Republic is scheduled to host the event in 2011, Colombia in 2012 and Panama in 2013, Mr. Van der Horst noted.
Whether Atlanta hosts the forum in the future remains to be seen, Mr. Gonzalez told GlobalAtlanta. CIFAL will continue to be involved with the forum in an advisory capacity and will help “wherever we are needed and whenever we are called,” he added. But he stressed that CIFAL will now leave the leadership of the forum to the Inter-American Competitiveness Network.
Mr. Gonzalez said that Atlanta “will be happy to host the forum” in the future, but the event’s location is less important than the fact that the forum now has an institutional structure that will guarantee its continuity, he said. For CIFAL, being able to add to the intellectual discussion and pass along best practices is more important than having the physical location where forum takes place, he added.
“It is what happens in between the forums that is important,” he said, noting that the forum is part of a continual dialogue among its participants to work together to improve competitiveness in the region.
CIFAL Atlanta plans to dedicate its efforts to building programs for municipal authorities and local public-private partnerships that can bring conclusions to the annual forum to enrich the discussion, Mr. Gonzalez said.
CIFAL will also continue to encourage Georgia businesses to participate in the forum, he added, noting that this year’s event drew a record number of local corporate participants. He said that it is up to each company to find a reason to participate and to find value in their participation, giving the example of Promethean Inc., an Alpharetta-based education technology company, that took a large sponsorship role in order to promote their products at the forum.
This year’s forum was attended by some 1,000 participants from 34 countries in the Americas, and its organizers were “thrilled,” according to Mr. Gonzalez. Particularly encouraging, he said, was the establishment of four side events that will be held at future forums. These include the U.S. Central America Renewable Energy Forum, a meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network and Americas competitiveness authorities and councils, a meeting of mayors from throughout the hemisphere and a meeting of the Americas’ ministers of economy and commerce.
For more information about the Inter-American Competitiveness Network, visit www.riacnet.org.
For more about the Americas Competitiveness Forum, visit www.competitivenessforum.org.