The German American Chamber of Commerce for the Southeastern U.S. (GACCSE) has won approval from its members and oversight bodies in Germany to set up a regional headquarters in Atlanta that will reach as far as Texas and will no longer be just a branch of the New York office.
The July 26 approval from the Bonn-based international chamber headquarters for a project to merge with the Houston branch capped off months of negotiation, said the GACCSE’s managing director for the Southeast, Thomas Beck. Of the two regional offices for the Southern U.S., Atlanta will have a supervisory role and will communicate with Bonn on behalf of the otherwise independent Houston office. Mr. Beck said the Houston branch’s 120 member companies proposed the move in February.
The office in Atlanta will regroup the two former branches of the New York office and will be known as the GACC – Southern U.S. Atlanta will now oversee 12 states including Texas and Louisiana, among others.
Mr. Beck said he expects the combined office to have 600 member companies by the end of 1996. He said that the move would also permit the Atlanta office to hire three additional full-time employees, upgrade equipment and offer more in-depth information services. As president of the new chamber, Mr. Beck will be able to deal directly with Bonn for funding and other needs.
With the Southeast becoming the most dynamic U.S. region for German investment and business, the GACCSE has seen its membership rolls burgeon since it was founded in 1978 to include 300 companies based on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Beck said. The strength of the Deutschemark and the recent construction of automotive factories in the region, which have drawn parts suppliers, have led to greater German investment.
While 90% of Southeastern members approved the proposal, Mr. Beck said, some members feel that the office will have reduced functions because it will cover such vast territory. Member Steven Wright, an attorney with Wright & Associates and president of Atlanta’s International Business Association, said that he is concerned the move “will dilute the focus of the chamber” in the Southeast.
But Mr. Beck said the Atlanta regional office will still be responsible just for the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and that Houston will oversee the South-central states in the chamber.
For more information, Mr. Beck may be reached at (404) 239-9494; fax (404) 264-1761.
by James Keaten