The first visit to Atlanta by 50 culinary, handicraft and wine companies from the central Italian region of Umbria last week was so successful that Conexport, the organizer, has committed to returning next year.

            The exhibition for potential buyers was held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

“ The attendance reached 300 at the opening event, which was the first time that ‘Bella Italia’ visited Atlanta. Conexport plans to return next year to the hotel,” said Jennifer Sarginson, director of public relations at the Hyatt.

Ilaria Cecchini, who organized the event on behalf of Conexport, said that the companies represented were small with five to 50 employees and primarily newcomers to the U.S. and Atlanta.

          She added that Atlanta offers access to the Southeast and is an excellent place to market the “made in Italy” brand, which is already known worldwide but remains relatively unknown in Atlanta.

          Ubaldo Graxia, president of U Grazia, a ceramics company, said the U.S. market represents 90 percent of his business.

          He added that retailers, such as Williams-Sonoma Inc., represent 60 percent of his U.S. client base.  The remaining 40 percent are private clients.

“When the stock market goes up so does our business, which is the way its been since 1920’s when we first sold product here,” Mr. Graxia said.

Michelangelo Formica, president of Busatti, G.L.E.S., who also exhibited his products at the exhibition, wants to sell his line of 600 linen products to high-end boutiques in Atlanta.  He already distributes through franchise operations in Los Angeles and Chicago.

For more information contact Giulia May, Italian Trade Commission at (404) 525-0660 or Alessandro Cecchi, Conexport by e-mail  HYPERLINK