Less than a week before a Benelux Day celebration that will bring the Dutch ambassador to Atlanta, the Netherlands Embassy in Washington has announced that Ard van der Vorst will be the first diplomat to represent his country at what will be its fifth U.S. consulate general.
The city’s newest diplomatic office is set to open Jan. 7 at a temporary location in Colony Square at 1175 Peachtree Street, Suite 1208.
Global Atlanta first reported in July that the consulate general would be setting up shop here largely to better facilitate economic ties between the Southeast U.S. and the Netherlands, which has an outsized impact on transatlantic trade and investment despite a population of just 17 million.
The consulate will not process visas and passports; those consular functions will still be provided out of the consulate general in Miami, which previously covered Georgia. Including its host state, the Atlanta office’s jurisdiction includes five states, including Tennessee, Alabama and the Carolinas.
The first rumblings of a consulate began during a 2014 trade mission led by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“We see great potential in the American Southeast,” Netherlands Ambassador to the United States Henne Schuwer said in a statement. “Atlanta is a natural home for a new Dutch representation to further strengthen our partnership with the U.S. The Netherlands and Atlanta have much in common. We both are gateways to a vast hinterland, we both are incubators for innovation, and we are both leaders in logistics, cybersecurity and fintech.”
Mr. Rutte, when meeting after his re-election as prime minister with U.S. President Donald Trump this year, announced he would expand the Dutch diplomatic presence in the U.S., starting with Atlanta.
Mr. Van der Vorst, the new consul general, comes to the post from the Hague, where he headed up communications for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He’s no stranger to the U.S., having previously been posted as deputy consul general and head of economic affairs in San Francisco. That likely had him engaging often with the technology sector, a key growth area for Atlanta and a point of connection between the city and the Netherlands.
A seasoned diplomat, Mr. Van der Vorst’s other postings include nearly three years at the Dutch representative office in Ramallah in the West Bank, more than three years as coordinator for political affairs for the Western Balkans at the foreign ministry, and nearly 10 years in various roles at the Dutch embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, culminating in his position as deputy chief of mission and head of the economic section.
Mr. Van der Vorst will be in Atlanta next week for Benelux Day, a celebration of Belgium, the Netherland and Luxembourg that has ambassadors from all three countries, including Mr. Schuwer, slated to visit Atlanta for a luncheon panel discussion highlighting economic affairs and a later dinner.