Atlanta attorney and former real estate investor Edward W. Gadrix, Jr., has formed an association with a Ukrainian law firm in Odessa and is encouraging U.S. companies to consider investing in what is known as “the pearl of the Black Sea.”

      “Odessa is reminiscent of Savannah,” he told GlobalFax.  “You would think that you were in a different country from the rest of the Ukraine because it is more cosmopolitan.”

      Although the country of 52 million people has had a difficult transition economically following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its established industrial capacity, natural resources and highly fertile agricultural land all bode well for the future.

      While, according to Mr. Gadrix,  the Ukraine as a whole provides many opportunities for U.S. companies, he is limiting his activities to Odessa with which he became familiar after meeting in Poland his wife, Svetlana, who is a native of the Ukrainian port city.

      A former real estate developer with Kaiser-Aetna who helped develop an office complex at Peachtree Corners, Mr. Gadrix said local real estate developers should be aware of the many opportunities for commercial real estate in Odessa. This was particularly true now because of the government’s campaign to auction off land, he added.

      The majority of the city’s residential buildings also are in need of renovation, he said.  One building, however, which does not need renovation is the city’s opera house which was rehabilitated after World War II and is renowned throughout the region.

      Traditionally a vacation resort for tourists from Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, he forecasted that Odessa would re-establish itself as a cultural and tourist center.

      And as a former banker during the 1970s with First National Bank of Atlanta, he expects that a wide variety of opportunities for investment will emerge.  Already his Ukrainian associate is exploring opportunities for food processing operations, a bakery and recreational facilities including small theme parks.

      If U.S. companies don’t become involved now, he added, they would lose out to investors from Germany and elsewhere which are already committed to its development.

      Mr. Gadrix may be reached at (404) 266-1292; fax, (404) 266-1335.