The Gordon County Chamber of Commerce has hired E.A. Consulting, an Atlanta-based firm, to assess local business needs and expand the international activities of the chamber’s members under a program funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Nicky Lancaster, founder of E.A. Consulting and the developer of “Global Capability Auditâ,” a program for assessing global readiness, told GlobalFax that once the audit has been conducted the chamber will be able to better manage international trade and foreign investment programs at a local level.

“This may be one of the first times an extensive amount of international business information has ever been collected in a rural community in Georgia,” Ms. Lancaster said in a telephone interview.

“So far, the information we have gathered, and what we have discovered, has positive implications not only for international trade and investment, but also for domestic programs and services offered at the local chamber level.”

The program includes larger companies and medium-size firms in a three-stage project. In phase one, E.A. Consulting and the chamber are working with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Center for Economic Development Services and the Georgia Department of Labor to gather data from businesses and community leaders in Calhoun and the rest of the county.

Once the data is collected from the county, which is located some 60 miles north of Atlanta, it will be analyzed and synthesized. During the implementation and follow-up of phase three, E.A. Consulting will work with the chamber staff and a variety of state organizations to provide the community with the necessary services for the development of international trade and investment.

Among the organizations involved are: the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Georgia Power and Georgia Tech Center for International Business Education and Research.

Ms. Lancaster may be reached at (404) 249-9308 or send an e-mail to  Jimmy Phillips, president of the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce, may be reached at (706) 625-3200.