With Georgia set to open its 11th state office in Beijing this spring, year-old considerations about establishing an office in India have been placed on the back burner.
Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said that opening an office in India is a possibility, albeit one that would require long-term “due diligence” to ensure the state has the budget and personnel capacity for such a project.
“We will have more to say following the formal opening of the China office in early April, which we are focused on for the moment,” Mr. Stewart told GlobalAtlanta in an e-mail while traveling in Asia.
Still, in a recent video interview with GlobalAtlanta, the chairman of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce’s branch in the state of Andhra Pradesh and city of Hyderabad promoted that city as a prime spot for Georgia to pursue an India office.
Anand Reddy, who heads one of the chamber’s many branches in India, said aerospace and education top the list of reasons Georgia should look at Hyderabad, his hometown and the base of his company, Sonali Castings Pvt. Ltd.
The Georgia Institute of Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with the Andhra Pradesh government last June, paving the way for a campus on 20 acres in Hyderabad and an eventual extension on in the nearby city of Visakhapatnam, according to news reports.
Hyderabad is also the site of a new international airport that is seeing surging demand as it nears its March 2008 launch date, Mr. Reddy said.
Jeff Pearse, marketing and business development director at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, hasn’t studied the Hyderabad airport in much depth, but he said the general demand for international air transportation in India has sharply increased over the past few years.
Mr. Stewart visited India and China last March along with Kevin Langston, now assistant commissioner of tourism for the state. They made it to Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi, but not Hyderabad.
Prior to that trip, GlobalAtlanta performed a non-scientific survey asking readers what they thought would best Indian location for Georgia’s prospective office. Hyderabad, which wasn’t listed in the pool of seven cities, was written in for 40 percent of the votes.
Mr. Reddy, whose trip to Atlanta began Dec. 26 and will last until Feb. 3, said he will meet with officials from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce when they return, ironically, from a mission to India. He would also like to speak with Mr. Stewart about his outlook on Hyderabad-Georgia connections.
“I would very much like to bid Hyderabad as the location for Georgia’s office,” Mr. Reddy said.
Mr. Reddy’s trip mixes chamber obligations with business opportunities and family ties.
His iron castings company has been exporting to the U.S. since 1994, and although his U.S. customers are primarily spread throughout the states of Arkansas, California, Florida and Louisiana, Mr. Reddy said he chose to locate an office in Marietta near his daughter, who lives in the metro Atlanta area.
Mr. Reddy’s son, Bharat Reddy, heads up the operation here under the name, Sonali Castings Inc. Bharat, who came to Atlanta two years ago, said it’s easy for Indians to feel at home in the Georgia capital.
As a representative of the chamber, Mr. Reddy is reciprocating a visit to Hyderabad by Michael Hartmann, president of Atlanta-based Transatlantic Sales LLC, a company that provides warehousing and consulting services to help companies enter the American market.
Mr. Hartmann performed a chamber-sponsored seminar in Chennai, India, in November on doing business in America and replicated that presentation at another seminar in Mr. Reddy’s city.
During his trip to India, Mr. Hartmann visited the sites of six manufacturing plants. Mr. Reddy’s company is looking to expand its output and is employing Mr. Hartmann’s expertise to attract more American customers.
In a recent GlobalAtlanta video interview, Mr. Reddy makes a case for Georgia to foster strong ties with Hyderabad, while Mr. Hartmann discusses his views on different Indian cities and their compatibility with Georgia.
– Leigh Miler Villegas contributed to this story