Mr. Sheinis said the chamber's goal is to expand its activities throughout the Southeast.

Surprised that the list of countries represented by a bi-national chamber of commerce in Atlanta did not include the Netherlands, attorney Richard Sheinis decided to take matters into his own hands.

Mr. Sheinis, a litigator at general practice firm Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover P.C. whose wife is Dutch, said he realized last year that though several organizations promote the Netherlands’ culture in Georgia, none was purely business focused.

He started working with representatives of Dutch companies in the area and is now president of the new Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeastern United States.

Mr. Sheinis said the chamber is to explicitly focus on business and trade development.

“We’re hoping to fill that one gap that needs to be filled, with the more business-oriented purpose and trade between the two countries.  In today’s era of globalization it seems like a great fit,” he said.

Mr. Sheinis added that the Dutch are already involved in Georgia’s economy, with more than 100 Netherlands-based companies operating here.

“The Dutch I think by nature are very entrepreneurial people,” he said.  “They are very much at the forefront of going to other countries and starting up new businesses, and they’ve done that here in Georgia.”

The U.S. Census Bureau Web site says that Dutch investment in the state totaled $981 million in 2007.

The Netherlands is also Georgia’s seventh-largest export destination, according to Georgia State University’s most recent Economic Forecast in August.

Ewoud Swaak, the Netherlands’ honorary consul for Georgia and South Carolina, donated part of his offices on Glenlake Parkway to house the chamber.

Organizers have already planned events for the remainder of this year and 2009, beginning with a Nov. 13 cocktail reception celebrating Dutch-American Heritage Day.

Mr. Sheinis said the goal is to coordinate business activities and promotions between the Netherlands and the entire Southeast, but that the chamber will have to take a measured approach to growth in its first years of operation.

He also said the chamber hopes to eventually organize trade missions between the two locales.

Economic development agencies in Georgia and the Netherlands have shown support for the new venture, as have several of the other bi-national chambers in the area.

Nico Wijnberg, international project manager at the Georgia Department of Economic Development is on the chamber’s board of directors, as is Allison Turner, area director for the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency in Atlanta.


Board of Directors:

President – Richard Sheinis, Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover P.C.

Vice-President – Herman Kooyman, Avio-Diepen Inc.

Treasurer – Sharon Kelly, Habif, Arogeti & Wynne LLP

Secretary – Norah Beijer, Bold American Catering

Elizabeth Baxendale, Sotheby’s International Realty

Greg Baxendale, Transwestern

Eric de Groot, Holland America Chamber

Mark Eijsvoogel, Fun Vending Inc.

Jan-Paul Kalmeijer, Nimble Associates

Mark Pierson, International Leadership Council

Steef Schelke, De Boer Food Importers Inc.

Cor Tadema, Ortec

Allison Turner, Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency

Bernard van der Lande, Stanton Chase International

Nico Wijnberg, Georgia Department of Economic Development


Ewoud Swaak, honorary consul for the Netherlands in Georgia and South Carolina

Colin Brady, Pinnacle Partners International Inc.