Ever since it landed the first U.S. facility of the Japanese zipper manufacturer YKK Corp. in the early 1970s, the city of Macon has had a yen for seizing international opportunities.
But even members of the Macon Rotary Club may have been surprised to learn that they are located in an emerging “international commerce corridor” that is pushing its way into Middle Georgia southeast on Interstate 75 from Atlanta and northwest on Interstate 16 from Savannah.
Christopher Smith, the Macon trial attorney who was appointed honorary consul for Denmark two years ago, told GlobalAtlanta that he coined the term for a speech he delivered to the club in late January.
Mr. Smith and his fellow honorary consul, Bruce Allen, who represents the principality of Liechtenstein, were asked to describe their duties as members of the city’s consular corps to the club membership.
Macon qualifies for this status because it has two honorary consuls, Mr. Smith said, with all the duties of the larger, 59-country consular corps in Atlanta, to which he and Mr. Allen also belong.
Mr. Smith said it is an honor for Macon to be located on the list of Denmark’s consular offices between the names of Los Angeles and Miami, and that many other cities in the country recognize the benefits of having such representation, including New Orleans, which recently sent a delegation to Washington to attract more of those benefits, he said.
“Having a consulate in your city basically is an international stamp of approval that your city has arrived,” he said, puckishly suggesting that it is similar to having a major league sporting team.
He also said that the presence of a consulate lends itself to free publicity, and can encourage investment and tourism.
He added that when Dr. Allen was appointed the honorary consul of Liechtenstein last year the news was broadcast throughout Europe since it was Liechtenstein’s first such appointment.
Mr. Smith recommended Dr. Allen, a medical doctor turned businessman, for the position when asked by Claudia Fritsche, Liechtenstein’s first resident ambassador in Washington, if he knew anyone whom he considered appropriate for the position.
Mr. Smith had gotten to know the ambassador through his work on behalf of Denmark. He was appointed honorary consul because of his activities on behalf of the Danish American Chamber of Commerce.
Both honorary consuls told GlobalAtlanta that they encourage international companies to consider establishing facilities in the Macon area as the Korean company Kumho Tire USA and the Japanese company Nichiha Corp. have done recently.
“Don’t forget that Macon has a wonderful water reservoir nearby,” he said referring to the facility in Jones County, which he hopes will act as a magnet for international companies that wish to settle in Georgia but may be concerned about the drought conditions elsewhere in the state.