Jose Ignacio Gonzalez, president of Perishables Group International LLC at Hartsfield International Airport, has been named executive director of Hemisphere Inc., the non-profit organization leading Atlanta’s bid for the Free Trade Area of the Americas secretariat.

            Gov. Sonny Perdue, chairman of Hemisphere Inc., announced the appointment, Aug. 12.

            Mr. Gonzalez, who said he has been involved in the city’s Americas gateway initiative “even before it became an initiative,” told GlobalFax he would focus his first efforts as director on preparations for Hemisphere Inc.’s mission to Argentina and Uruguay at the end of the month.

            He will be accompanied on the trip by representatives of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the organizations spearheading Atlanta’s marketing initiative for the Americas. Members of Atlanta’s business community will also take part in the meetings with business and government leaders in Argentina and Uruguay.

            The delegation will promote Georgia’s ports, access to the North American market through Atlanta’s airport and the city’s strong corporate presence as key advantages in locating the FTAA secretariat here, said Mr. Gonzalez. 

            Such themes are to be the focus of Hemisphere’s Inc.’s marketing campaign throughout the Americas, he added.

            Mr. Gonzalez, a native of Colombia, is the founding partner of Perishables Group International, which handles the storage and shipping of perishable commodities at Hartsfield.  He said his knowledge of the airport and of international trade would help him in his new position.

            He is giving up his position with Perishables Group to take over Hemisphere Inc.’s directorship full-time. 

            Mr. Gonzalez graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., in 1976 and later received his MBA from Mercer University.

            Negotiations for the FTAA, which would create a free trade zone between 34 countries in the Americas, are to be completed by 2005.  Currently, there is no specific timeframe for the selection of an FTAA secretariat location.

            For more information about Hemisphere Inc., contact Rose Raus with Gateway to the Americas at (404) 898-1266.  Contact Perishables Group International at (404) 767-1700.