While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership hangs in midair, Robert Blumel is optimistic about French investments being made in the Southeast U.S. and conversely the potential for Atlanta-based startups and small-to-medium sized firms in France and Europe.
Having spent the past three years in Atlanta representing the Business France agency and four years beforehand in New York. Mr. Blumel told Global Atlanta that he has seen “an increased interest from French companies to expand to the Southeast region and especially Atlanta.”
Business France was founded in 2015 to support the international development of the French economy and is responsible for fostering and supporting growth by French businesses as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France.
As prime examples, Mr. Blumel cited Groupe PSA, a French multinational manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles, which opened this year its North American headquarters in Atlanta, and Airbus S.A.S.‘s choice of Atlanta for its commercial drone subsidiary.
Granted PSA’s entry into Atlanta is part of a deliberately conservative foray executed with the use of its technology to determine potential markets for its array of products. Nevertheless it’s success in Europe augurs well for its Atlanta-based initiative.
Airbus’ wholly-owned subsidiary Airbus Aerial aims to sell its services to a wide array of industries in their efforts to capture helpful data from above through the use of drones or satellites.
This year Airbus Aerial received a Crystal Peach award from the Atlanta-based French-American Chamber of Commerce for its investment.
The Crystal Peach Awards ceremony is in its 14th year and other recipients for either inbound investment into the Southeast or outbound investment into France included Imerys, a French multinational firm specialized in the producing and processing of industrial materials.
Last fall Imerys USA Inc. celebrated the opening of its global Science & Technology Center in Suwanee, Ga., one of nine networked centers around the world for the sharing of ideas, equipment and competencies across Imerys.
Mr. Blumel also pointed to the investments in France by Crystal Peach award winners Invest Asset Management SA/France, a branch of Invesco Ltd., an independent investment management company that is headquartered in Atlanta, and Cognira, a startup specialized in cognitive retail analytics that received this year’s Crystal Peach entrepreneurship award.
He is especially supportive of Cognira’s entry into France which he has been assisting. “They are growing fast,” he said, acknowledging the role played by Business France in its development there.
“I see Atlanta becoming a vibrant startup scene with very promising companies,” he added. “I have been identifying startups with great ideas, services or products and helping them in their business development strategies in France and in Europe.”
Among his activities as the agency’s director for the Southeast, he said that he is responsible for hosting delegations such as the representatives from 11 French paper company suppliers whom he introduced recently to Southeastern paper and board manufacturers.
He also has been selected to participate on juries such as those choosing companies for the Atlanta-Toulouse startup exchange in 2016 and 2017, the Young Enterprise Initiative in 2016, a startup competition organized by the French embassy in Washington, and the Crystal Peach Awards committee.
Additionally, he arranged for the CEOs of United Parcel Service Inc., AGCO Corp. and the Coca-Cola Co. to participate in the French International Business Summit held in January that drew to Versailles 140 of the leading executives of the world’s largest firms to learn first hand from French President Emmanuel Macron and the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, France’s desires for international investment.
Whatever delays negotiations over TTIP or tariffs may impose on French-U.S. business relations, Mr. Blumel said that at the local level cross-investment is progressing at a gallop, especially for startups and SMEs on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Atlanta-based startups are hot,” he said. “And Business France can help them in their business development in Europe and France.”
Mr. Blumel may be reached by email <firstname.lastname@example.org> or calling 347-567-1140.