After retiring from BellSouth Corp. in 2001, James Gaffey formed his company The Gaffey Group and has developed his international business consulting practice with an emphasis on Europe, especially linking the Southeast U.S. with Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A first generation Irish-American with family living in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, Mr. Gaffey was aware of Ireland’s rapid economic growth with its accession to the European Union in 1976.
His attention became more focused on Northern Ireland, however, as an opportunity. Traditionally Northern Ireland has had the stronger economy as a member of the United Kingdom, and now is catching back up.
“The companies of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry deserve their day in the sun and we are supporting their outreach,” he told GlobalAtlanta.
Mr. Gaffey saw a role for Atlanta and Georgia to play in developing ties with the island of Ireland, he added. “We were able to promote Atlanta as a center of business opportunity as well as for peace and reconciliation thanks to the earlier work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter.”
He considers his efforts particularly timely in view of Ireland’s economic advancement and the peace initiatives taking place in Northern Ireland.
The Gaffey Group arranged the first joint trade mission of the principal chambers of commerce in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland in October of 2004.
The mission galvanized the Atlanta chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States Inc. to roll out the red carpet and arrange one-on-one meetings for the visitors with local companies.
Since then two other missions from Northern Ireland have been received here bringing the total numbers of Irish companies visiting Atlanta through his efforts to 33.
Mr. Gaffey went with Chris Clarke, the deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development to Dublin, Ireland, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, in April 2005.
He also has been supportive of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s decision to open an applied research and development center in Athlone, Ireland, which was initiated, he said, by Ciaran Morris of Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority.
The institute is focused on developing four technology areas that mirror Ireland and Georgia Tech’s research strengths in digital media, radio frequency identification, biotechnology and energy.
Mr. Gaffey with Kevin Conboy, president of the local Irish chamber, also has developed relations with the Atlantic Corridor Project that focuses on companies in the midlands region of Ireland of which Athlone is the center.
And The Gaffey Group’s activities continue to broaden, he said, citing its arranging the visit to Georgia of John Bruton, the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S.
Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Irish Chamber of Commerce in the USA – Atlanta Chapter:
Kevin Conboy, (404) 815-2211
The Gaffey Group: James Gaffey (770) 448-0685