Friday, Dec. 12, conference in Atlanta to focus of Republic of Georgia

A Friday, Dec. 12, conference in Atlanta will focus on how U.S. companies can invest in the Republic of Georgia, helping that war-torn democracy recover from the Russian invasion last August.  

“Clearly, the stronger Georgia’s economy is, the more likely their democracy will flourish,” said Atlanta attorney John Hall, president of the Atlanta-Tbilisi Sister City Committee, a conference sponsor. “We’re excited about where Georgia is with their democracy, but we have to continue to support them financially. And the best way to do that is not just aid, but it’s through economic investment. If we are tied there in economic investment, we are going to be tied for the long term. And that is where we should be.” 

The conference, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, will be held Dec. 12 at the W Hotel, Midtown, 188 14th St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  It is free but attendees should make reservations.  Email name, title, company, phone number and fax number to Call Jessica Toliver, at 404-954-5000 extension 2148 with questions. 

In an interview with GlobalAtlanta, Paul Dyck, deputy assistant secretary of the Commerce Department, said the Republic of Georgia has “an economy with opportunities.” 

It has “a government that has made a sustained effort at economic reform,” said Mr. Dyck. 

There are opportunities there for U.S. companies in fields such as hydropower, roads, bridges, ports, real estate, information technology and agriculture, he said. The U.S. government has pledged $1 billion in support for Georgia, he said.

“Despite the problems of August, Georgia is a safe place to do business,” Mr. Dyck said. 

In 2007, exports from the U.S. to Georgia totaled $364 million, he said. 

Mr. Hall traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, in October. 

“I went on behalf of the Atlanta-Tbilisi Sister City Committee to [commemorate] the 20th anniversary of the relationship with Tbilisi,” Mr. Hall told GlobalAtlanta.” It really was kind of surreal because when the relationship first formed, back in the 1990s, there was a significant amount of conflict with the Russians that led to Georgian independence. And now to go back and see that independence challenged by the Russians was truly an historic time.” 

Mr. Hall said Georgians “really have a sense of history – they really have a sense of their place in democracy. They are very committed to democracy.”

The Russian conflict was only a temporary setback for Georgia, Mr. Hall said.

“While this was an extreme tragedy, out of that tragedy comes great opportunity,” Mr. Hall said. ‘It creates huge opportunities for U.S. companies, especially in the areas of infrastructure, in utilities. The infrastructure of Georgia will be built up by the economic contribution that is coming as a result of the Russian conflict. So while it is certainly something that no one would have wished to have occurred, we see great opportunity coming out of this conflict.”