Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
Russia’s well-educated workforce presents a viable alternative for Georgia companies outsourcing to India, according to Yelena Epova, tax partner with Habif, Arogeti & Wynne LLP.

“The main advantage of doing business in Russia is the unbelievable education that people have gotten there,” said Ms. Epova, an international tax specialist.

Ms. Epova works with about a dozen clients who have operations in Russia or other former Soviet Union countries. Some of them will be panelists at a Monday, Oct. 30, seminar that will consider those countries as business destinations for Americans.

“A lot of people in Russia are looking for opportunities, especially with U.S. companies,” Ms. Epova told GlobalAtlanta of her home country, which has an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.

An educational system left over from the Soviet era has produced a workforce specialized in science-related fields such as electronics engineering, product and software development. And the country boasts a literacy rate of nearly 100 percent for its some 143 million citizens, she said.

But access to knowledge-based jobs is limited, and highly skilled graduates are willing to work for much lower salaries than equally qualified candidates in the U.S. or Western Europe.

The result is a bargain for Georgia companies, according to Ms. Epova, who added that Russia presents a viable business alternative to India, where IT outsourcing has been popular for several years.

She also said that any Russian graduates have learned English to facilitate their employment with foreign direct investors.

“Often businesspeople are worried that Russians don’t speak English. And that is true for the older population, but the younger population is pretty fluent,” she said.

The addition of Delta Air Lines Inc.’s direct flight between Atlanta and Moscow in June 2005 has made Russia a much more viable destination for Georgia businesspeople, Ms. Epova added.

From Moscow, businesspeople can access other major Russian cities via rail such as St. Petersburg, which is within four hours from the Russian capital.

They can also get to main industrial cities, such as Chelyabinsk, which is located east of the Ural Mountains near Siberia. Chelyabinsk is home to a metallurgy plant and manufacturing facilities for tractors and heavy machinery.

Panelist at the upcoming seminar Joanne Walter, founder of EcoInvest LLC, a business investment company, is expected to discuss her experiences working in Chelyabinsk.

Also attending the seminar will be Valery Panov, a deputy in the Russian Federal Duma or legislature, who is chairman of a subcommittee for stock exchange legislation.

An entrepreneur and former manager of a Russian automobile plant, Mr. Panov is to be the seminar’s keynote speaker, traveling to Atlanta from Moscow.

Other panelists include Igor Berkovich, president of the Russian Business Club, an organization that promotes the need for an honorary consulate to be established in Atlanta; Dolan Falconer, co-founder, president and CEO of ScanTech Holding, a research and development company specializing in cargo and food safety technologies; Sean McClosky, an international lawyer with business experience in the former Soviet Union; Sergio Millian, president of Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta and Marta White, director of Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business study abroad program to Russia.

The seminar runs from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. with breakfast and lunch included. Cost to attend is $55 in advance or $65 at the door, and the pre-registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 20.

It is sponsored by the Atlanta Bar Association, Delta Air Lines, GlobalAtlanta, Habif Arogeti & Wynne and SunTrust Banks Inc.

Register for the seminar at

For more information, visit

Contact Ms. Epova at (404) 898-7431 or