When in Rome, do as Romans do, the old cross-cultural adage goes.
Diplomats visiting the far reaches of Northwest Georgia this week got a chance to put that into practice.
The visit to Georgia’s Rome included stops at the Darlington School, a co-ed boarding school, along with a career academy, a home that played a historic role in the displacement of the Cherokee nation and a manufacturing plant run by Suzuki Corp.
Rome and Floyd County are one of five destinations for the cadre of 27 consuls general, honorary consuls and other consular officials on this year’s International VIP Tour, an annual event showcasing parts of the state they might not otherwise visit in the course of their duties.
Among the many stops on the itinerary crafted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development are factories that evidence the state’s promise as a business destination.
In addition to Suzuki, they visited IVC U.S., a flooring facility in Dalton, the world’s carpet capital. The factory was established by a Belgian entity purchased in a billion-dollar deal by Mohawk Industries Inc just a few years ago. They also visited the Calhoun factory of FieldTurf, the Montreal-based subsidiary of France‘s Tarkett SA, which provided the turf on the field (or pitch, as the case may be) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Beyond the flooring sector, they were set to visit one of the state’s largest recent Korean investments: the $150 million Hanwha Q CELLS solar panel plant.
State leaders say it’s a chance to showcase Georgia’s assets and deepen relationships with consulates, who become conduits for international investment, trade and tourism.
“Every year since the mid 1980s, the Consular Corps learns about the assets that make this state such a fantastic destination for business and tourism and an incredible source for quality goods and services,” said Deputy Commissioner for International Relations Abby Turano in a news release. “This new knowledge is shared around the world, elevating the state’s international profile and bringing new opportunities over time.”
Miguel Aleman, consul general of Peru and the dean (the diplomat with the longest tenure) of the Atlanta Consular Corps, said the tour helps diplomats establish relationships with cities and counties to explore further collaboration. His Rome experience included throwing out the first pitch at a minor-league baseball game:
Special thanks to @TheRomeBraves for joining us during our 33rd Annual International VIP Tour and having Miguel Aléman Urteaga, Consul General, Dean of the Consular Corps, throw the first pitch at yesterday’s game. #GAVIPTour pic.twitter.com/2ukpvLQujY
— Georgia, USA (@gdecd) April 26, 2019
On the way back toward Atlanta, they were to stop at Phoenix Air Group, the Cartersville-based chartered airline with a 40-year history of government and military contracts. The airline made a name for itself flying Ebola patients and equipment from West Africa to the U.S. during the 2014 outbreak.
It wasn’t all work, however. The international representatives experienced America’s pastime at a Rome Braves game, saw the unique formations at Rock City at Lookout Mountain, Ga., learned about the American West through art at the Booth Museum, and stayed at the Barnsley Resort built by a British trader from Liverpool in for his Savannah-born bride in what’s now in Adairsville. The estate was the site of a Civil War battle and was occupied by Sherman’s troops; now it’s the site of weddings and golf outings. It was owned by a Bavarian prince before the resort was established.
The group also learned about Georgia’s technical education system through stopping in on the Floyd County College and Career Academy.
The tour was rounded out by a luncheon Friday hosted by the Kennesaw State University Division of Global Affairs.
Follow tweets from the tour here.