The Atlanta-based German chamber celebrated the opening of its new offices at 1170 Howell Mill Rd. on Jan 26 with a reception that drew newly elected Mayor Kasim Reed, city and state officials and more than 300 well-wishers.
Founded in 1978 to promote and support bilateral trade between Germany and the U.S., the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S. has moved five times as its reach extended to include 11 states and a network of some 700 members.
Local chapters have been established in Charlotte, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Dallas; Houston and Nashville, Tenn.
The offices are located on the third floor of the White Provision building that dates back to 1910 when it was constructed as the first large-scale meatpacking plant in the South.
The building’s brick facades and urban setting have provided the backdrop for film and television episodes including the movie “Kalifornia,” featuring actors Brad Pitt and David Duchovny.
The renovated quarters occupy more than 10,000 square feet and include incubator space for six German companies that are using Atlanta as a launch pad for U.S. operations. The space also includes the Porsche Board Room.
The architecture, planning and design firm Square Feet Studio Inc. worked with the chamber to complete the new quarters, which feature German products including Poggenpohl kitchen cabinetry, Bosch appliances, Bayerle and Dorm door and glass hardware and VS America Inc. furniture.
The chamber’s founder, Eike Jordan, president of Jordan Inter Start Inc., recalled that there were only two members when it was first launched on the top floor of the Harris Tower in Peachtree Center. The chamber then moved near Lenox Square in the late 1980s and then back to Peachtree Center in its South Tower as its membership and activities grew. It most recently was located at 530 Means St. where it once again outgrew its premises.
Besides Mr. Reed, local government officials at the reception included Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; state Sens. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga and Judson Hill of Marietta; state Rep. Ron Stephens of Savannah and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall.
In his welcoming comments, the chamber’s president and CEO Kristian Wolf said that the new space was selected because it had an appealing loft and warehouse feel and a more workable space for its staff.
“Our business and our culture are here in the Southern U.S. not for short-term advantages but for long-term joint success and to secure jobs in Germany by enhancing its global competitiveness through job creation in the U.S.,” Lutz Gorgens, the German consul general based in Atlanta, said in his opening comments.
The chamber is part of an international network composed of 120 German foreign chambers of commerce and government offices in 80 countries. These organizations are under the direction of the central German Chamber of Industry and Trade in Berlin.
It serves the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
For more information about the chamber, go to www.gaccsouth.com.