The Central European country of Hungary will have greater representation in the Southeast since appointing Atlanta native and Delta Air Lines Inc. General Attorney John Parkerson to serve as honorary consul.
“I have responsibility to dramatically heighten Hungary’s visibility, in respect to business opportunities, in a four-state area,” Mr. Parkerson told GlobalAtlanta, describing his duties as honorary consul – a title he officially took on April 19.
From Atlanta, Mr. Parkerson will represent Hungary throughout Georgia, in North and South Carolina and in Tennessee.
He is already working with the Metro-Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Economic Development to hold a May 29 reception and May 30 business meeting concerning the country in Atlanta.
Mr. Parkerson expects Hungary’s highly educated workforce and low price of labor to be highlighted during the business conference.
While times and locations for the events are still being determined, officials from the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, including Ambassador AndrÃ¡s Simonyi, have confirmed their attendance, said Mr. Parkerson.
He has worked with Mr. Simonyi and Hungarian officials for nearly two years, helping Delta to open a direct flight between New York and Budapest, Hungary’s capital city, last spring.
Mr. Parkerson and Mr. Simonyi first met when the ambassador visited Morrow for a business mission in the summer of 2005. As a member of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s international promotions council, which welcomed the Hungarian business delegation in 2005, Mr. Parkerson was able to form a close working relationship with the ambassador.
It was then that he learned of Mr. Simonyi’s passion for the electric guitar and organized a trip for the ambassador to see the Breeze Kings, a local blues band, perform in Atlanta.
“We really hit it off on a personal level,” Mr. Parkerson said of the 2005 meeting. “The ambassador plays the guitar and loves blues music,” he said.
At the time of the GlobalAtlanta interview, Mr. Parkerson had just returned from an April 27 benefit concert in New York, which Mr. Simonyi had organized to raise money for the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic. The clinic offers comprehensive healthcare to New Orleans musicians.
Mr. Simonyi and his band, the Coalition of the Willing, which includes Jeff Baxter, a former guitarist with the Doobie Brothers who chairs the Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense, performed at the benefit.
But Mr. Simonyi’s love for Southern-born music is not the only cultural connection that Georgia has with Hungary, Mr. Parkerson noted.
Clayton State University’s renowned classical music venue, Spivey Hall, of Morrow, has developed musical exchange programs with the Liszt Academy in Budapest since 2004. And Atlanta’s Fox Theatre welcomed the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble to perform last month.
Emory University has also welcomed Hungary’s former foreign affairs adviser, Gyula Kodolanyi, as a visiting professor to the Claus M. Halle Institute.
And plans to develop a Hungarian Club of Georgia are also underway, Mr. Parkerson said.
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John Parkerson (404) 715-6937
The Breeze Kings