A delegation of 16 Indian officials from the state of Maharashtra, who visited eight U.S. cities June 19- July 1, found Atlanta’s commitment to international trade as an outstanding match for their state’s developing technological industry.

The delegation, which was here to encourage U.S. investment in Maharashtra, encouraged officials at the Georgia Institute of Technology to open an Indian campus in Maharashtra after a June 29 visit to the Atlanta university. The delegation also expressed interest in establishing a sister-city relationship between Maharashtra and Atlanta.

“This is the first place that has really given the message for globalization,” said Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh at a luncheon held for the delegation in Atlanta on June 30 at the Southern Center for International Studies.

Mr. Deshmukh cited companies like Cable News Network LP LLLP and Coca-Cola Co. to contributing to the city’s commitment to globalization and met with representatives from both companies during his visit. The delegation also met with individuals from other Atlanta-based multinationals including Delta Air Lines Inc., GE Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric Co., and United Parcel Service Inc.

Located on the western coast of the country, Maharashtra is India’s third most populated state with a well-educated workforce, a good logistics infrastructure and 300 engineering and polytechnical universities, Mr. Deshmukh said June 29 during a reception held for the delegation at the World Trade Center Atlanta.

“In the past 30, 25, 10 years, India has made tremendous progress, and Maharashtra has always been a progressive state,” he said, citing that Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra’s state capital and India’s financial capital, had helped contribute to the state’s industrial growth.

He also noted that the state was making concerted efforts to increase foreign direct investment by overcoming many of the bureaucratic hurdles that once discouraged foreign companies from settling there.

“We have changed our bureaucratic system,” he said. “We have turned the red tape into the red carpet.”

Before arriving in Atlanta, the delegation began their trip in Philadelphia where they attended the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2005 Annual International Convention, which Mr. Deshmukh cited as an industry with tremendous growth potential in Maharashtra.

The group also met with real estate developers in New York and members of the Napa Valley wine industry in California. They met with representatives from Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp. India Private Ltd. in Seattle, which led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Microsoft and the government of Maharashtra.

The memorandum is to lead to increased information technology literacy in the state through the construction of a third IT university in Maharashtra and the development of Microsoft Windows and Office programs in Marathi interfaces, the local language of the state.

The delegation also visited Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington during its 13-day tour of the U.S.

Welcomed in Atlanta by the Georgia-Indo American Chamber of Commerce, the delegation participated in a trade seminar on July 1 that focused on business outsourcing to India. The event was hosted by the Atlanta chapter of the Indian professional group the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) and Brihan Maharashatra Mandal of North America, a social and cultural group for Maharashtra immigrants, which held its national convention in Atlanta July 2-4.

For more information on the delegation’s visit, contact Ash Thakker at (678) 230-3283.