The French region of Rhône-Alpes has set up in Atlanta its first export assistance incubator in the U.S. to assist its companies export and eventually set up operations here as well as find U.S. partners.

      Rhône-Alpes, which is the most developed part of France outside of the Paris area, has established nine other incubators around the world, including a successful operation in Shanghai, Jean-luc Sost told GlobalFax during an interview in Atlanta Aug. 17.  Mr. Sost is general manager of the region’s economic development agency, Entreprise Rhône-Alpes International (ERAI).

      He said that the agency helps Rhône-Alpes companies, especially small- to medium-sized firms, analyze appropriate markets and find financing. Once a company has had success with exports and wants to locate in a new market, the agency can even provide management assistance, he said.

      Rhône-Alpes has many of France’s largest industrial groups based there, he said, but the small- to medium-sized companies provide most of the jobs and need the most help in developing new markets. “Small- to medium-sized companies often are unprepared to mobilize all the funds that they need,” Mr. Sost added.

      After having set up a decade ago in Shanghai, 62 Rhône-Alpes firms are now doing business in China, he added. ERAI opened an office in Atlanta in the fall of last year, which is managed by Xavier Lalande, who is responsible for developing business throughout the U.S. by providing the incubator services and as a matchmaker.

      Mr. Sost was visiting Atlanta Aug. 17-18 under the international visitor program of the U.S. State Department. The program is managed locally by the Georgia Council for International Visitors.

      Mr. Sost may be reached by e-mail at Mr. Lalande’s telephone number is (404) 233-8623 and he may be reached by e-mail at