A recent trade mission from Northern Ireland to Atlanta was intensive but productive, with delegates participating in a total of 140 meetings in the two days dedicated to one-on-one meetings, Ben McGrane, trade development assistant with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told GlobalAtlanta.

The fast-paced meetings, held mostly at the offices of law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, were “like speed-dating” at times, Mr. McGrane said. But he added that the trip was efficient because the delegates were able to meet so many people in such a short time.

The delegation was honored at a luncheon at the Coca-Cola Co. headquarters hosted by the Atlanta branch of the Samford University Business Network, an organization that promotes relationships between Samford alumni as well as other business professionals.

Jim Gaffey, president of the Gaffey Group LLC, introduced the delegation to the audience, many of whom have a Samford affiliation and had come to hear about Coca-Cola’s worldwide marketing plan from the company’s lead global strategist.

After the luncheon, members of the delegation told GlobalAtlanta that the mission–a six-day journey so intense that it caused some of the men to lose their voices–was a successful venture on a number of fronts.

Garth Morton, business development manager Consilium Technologies Ltd., a provider of IT solutions for the public sector in Northern Ireland, came on the trip to research the Atlanta market and try to find a representative for his company’s products in the U.S. Everything went smoothly, and “we couldn’t have been looked after any better,” he said.
Mr. Morton said he would have to take a few days to digest the vast amount of information he received on the trip, but that he was pleased with the business climate of the Georgia capital.

“This whole place (Atlanta) just seems like it’s geared toward making it easy for people trying to do more business and to grow their business,” he told GlobalAtlanta.

The 10-person delegation also included Harry McGee, managing director of Property Invest GB Ltd., a company that focuses on commercial real estate and is looking to invest in properties that mix residential developments with commercial properties.

“We’re interested in the meetings we’ve had this week, and I’m considering a joint venture with a company in America,” said Mr. McGee, who added that his company’s new projects aim to combat what he called “six o’clock cities,” towns that die after everyone gets home from work.

Mr. McGee visited Atlanta 15 years ago, and the luncheon was his second time in the Coca-Cola building. He said that from his perspective, the city has changed dramatically.

He also said he thinks that representatives from Belfast International Airport, who had originally planned to come to Atlanta with this delegation, were still in negotiations with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Delta Air Lines Inc. about a route to Belfast. He said he thinks they will try to take their own trip later.

On this trip, the delegation flew Continental Airlines Inc. from Belfast to Newark, N.J., before connecting to Atlanta.

This mission was the fourth to Atlanta undertaken by the Northern Ireland chamber since 2004, signifying the growing ties between the two regions.

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, and according Mr. Gaffey, the country’s economy is growing quickly and operating efficiently, with a very low unemployment rate.

Mr. McGrane said this was his first mission with the Northern Ireland Chamber, but that he hopes to come back next year.
Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
The Gaffey Group LLC – Jim Gaffey, president (770) 448-068

Ireland Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Atlanta –
Kevin Conboy, President (404) 815-2211