One hundred thirty CEOs and other senior executives representing affiliates of Austrian companies in North America descended on Atlanta Sept. 22-24 to network, compare notes about doing business in the U.S. and share best practices.
Michael Friedl, the New York-based Austrian trade commissioner, told Global Atlanta that Atlanta was chosen to host the ninth edition of the “Austria connect North America” conference because of the large concentration of Austrian companies in the Atlanta area and the Southeast more generally.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development has listed more than 35 Austrian companies in the state in a wide variety of manufacturing, technical and industrial services, wholesale trade, transportation, distribution and property management.
He also cited the resources of the Georgia Institute of Technology, which is hosting the conference at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.
Mr. Friedl said that the annual event provides opportunities for attendees to strengthen and expand their personal networks with other Austrian subsidiaries a well as with U.S. service providers such as lawyers, tax advisers and consultants.
Among the executives are to be the CEOs of Austrian companies with established operations on the continent including proALPHA Group, a provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for small-to medium-sized firms; Blum Inc., cabinet and furniture manufacturers; Palfinger AG, hydraulic lifting and loading equipment manufacturers and voestalpine Automotive Body Parts Inc., manufacturer of auto parts.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Staying relevant in rapidly changing times.” Austria’s federal minister for the Ministry of Transportation, Innovation and Technology is scheduled to provide a keynote address.
As examples of fast-paced change, Mr. Friedl cited self-driving cars, robot doctors, bitcoins and rapid developments in human genomics. “These are realities and not stories from the future,” he said in the conference’s promotional materials.
“Austrian companies and organization have to re-evaluate and re-establish their relevance to consumers, employees and partners – to markets as a whole. Our speakers should help us understand and cope with the future developments in technology, manufacturing, branding, innovation and politics.”
The Sept. 23 program includes speakers on provocative subjects including “The future of everything,” by Henrik I. Christensen, professor of computer science at the University of California, San Diego and director of the Institute for Contextual Robotics; “Manufacturing the future,” by Thomas Kurfess, professor and HUSCO/Ramirez distinguished chair in fluid power and motion control at Georgia Tech;
Hikmet Ersek, chief executive officer and director of The Western Union Co., on the future of Fintech and payments;”
Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for Time Magazine, is to speak on “the future of politics,” and Mike Dillon, vice president, Global Marketing Strategy, Coca-Cola Co. on “the future of branding.
On Sept. 24 the executives are to visit the Porsche Experience Center near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport where they will have the opporutnity to try out varous Porsche models on the facility’s test track.
For more information, go to www.advantageaustria.org