The Georgia office of Enterprise Rhône-Alpes International (ERAI) is expanding its role to attract U.S. investors to the heavily industrialized Rhône-Alps region of France.

            ERAI opened an economic development branch in Atlanta in 1999, primarily to provide market access information and coaching to French firms entering the U.S. market.

            The agency’s Buckhead office is currently home to an accelerator for Rhône-Alps companies that receive legal and business counseling, training in U.S. sales techniques and assistance finding strategic partners in the region, explained Xavier Lalande, the Atlanta branch director.

            Building on its now-established network in the U.S., ERAI’s Georgia office is to work with its counterpart in Montreal to increase investment by North American firms in Rhône-Alps, he said. 

            As an initial effort, ERAI’s Atlanta staff held a telecom conference in Atlanta, June 3, which included presentations from Rhône-Alps trade representatives and representatives of the industry-rich areas of BadenWurttemberg, Germany; Catalonia, Spain and Lombardy, Italy.

            Held against the backdrop of the Supercomm 2003 trade show, the seminar focused on the steady growth of information technology and telecom development in each of the four regions, known collectively as the Four Motors for Europe.

            Gunter Moltzan, director of the North American office of the BadenWurttemberg Agency for International Economic Cooperation, said the telecom seminar was the first time since 1997 the Four Motors had convened for an investment promotion program in the U.S.

            He added that he would encourage more Four Motors trade promotion programs here, since U.S. firms locating in one of the four regions would have easy market access to the expanded European Union through the contacts and collaboration afforded by the alliance.

            Companies involved in the ERAI Atlanta accelerator program include Derscan Inc., a provider of cosmetic testing technology; Dickson Coatings USA, a developer of technical textiles technology, Techpap Inc., a firm that produces equipment for the pulp and paper industry and Weiss Chocolate, a manufacturer of chocolate.

            For more information, contact Mr. Lalande at (404) 233-8623 or visit Contact Mr. Moltzan at