A newly organized Caribbean Resource Center plans to foster trade and economic development between Georgia and the Caribbean region, while also increasing the economic and political clout of some 300,000 Caribbean residents in the state, said Ansel Peck, the organization’s CEO.

During a press conference held at Atlanta City Hall on July 30, he said the center is to provide advocacy services for Caribbean residents in health, immigration, legal and social services. The center will be located in the Stone Mountain area, where the majority of that population resides in metro Atlanta, he said.

He also said that the concept for a center representing the interests of all 34 island countries in the Caribbean had been suggested by Georgia’s Republican senator, Saxby Chambliss, and Gov. Sonny Perdue when they were campaigning for the 2002 election.

“They told us that we should tell the Caribbean people to get together and form one organization that would have a lot of clout rather than working through many individual groups,” he said.

Mr. Peck added that many opportunities for trade exist with the Caribbean countries. As an example, he cited their purchase of peaches from Australia rather than from Georgia, which is much closer to them.

According to Claire McLeveighn, director of external affairs and international relations, office of the mayor, an upcoming trade and cultural mission is planned for later this year with representatives from Trinidad and Tobago.

As one of its first official activities, the center is sponsoring an Inaugural Gala Reception to be held at Atlanta City Hall on Friday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m., featuring entertainment, presentations and refreshments.

The Center will represent 34 island countries of the Caribbean region. They are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Island; Cayman Islands, Republic of Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Republic of Guyana; Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Eustatius, St. Lucia; St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Republiek Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, U.S. and Virgin Islands.

For more information, contact Mr. Peck by email at anselp@alltel.net.