Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is scheduled to speak at an April 16 conference in Hanover, Germany, on behalf of companies in the Southeast U.S. selling products to automotive manufacturers.

This conference is sponsored by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Hanover and the German American Chambers of Commerce of the Southern U.S.

Although the automotive industry is in a worldwide slump, the Southeast U.S. has major new major plants in the works. Kia Motors Corp. is scheduled to open a $1.2 billion plant in West Point, Ga., later this year. Volkswagen Group of America is building a $1 billion plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., that is scheduled to open in 2011.

“We are working hard to recruit VW suppliers to Northwest Georgia to support the plant in Chattanooga, and this business mission to Germany is part of that effort,” Mr. Stewart told GlobalAtlanta.

Suppliers could produce more jobs than their auto plant customers. The Kia factory in West Point, for example, is expected to produce 2,500 jobs while suppliers will provide employment for 2,600, state officials have said.

Antje Abshoff, director of the Munich office of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and State Sen. Jeff Mullis, a Republican from Chickamauga, are scheduled to speak at the Hanover conference about opportunities in Georgia for automotive suppliers. Mr. Mullis represents a district near Chattanooga.

Atlanta law firms will be represented at the conference as well. Teri A. Simmons of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP will discuss U.S. visa and immigration law. Tycho H.E. Stahl, an attorney with the same firm, will discuss Volkswagen suppliers entering the U.S. market. Hans-Michael Kraus, attorney for Smith, Gambrell and Russell LLP is scheduled to present a case study on auto plant construction.

“International investment is critical to Georgia’s economic development initiatives and to the creation of jobs in both metro Atlanta and in other communities throughout the state,” Ms. Simmons told GlobalAtlanta. “Georgia is fortunate to have attracted German automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Porsche Cars North America Inc., selected Atlanta as it U.S. headquarters. Porsche investment has created direct employment for over 300 people.”

For more information on the conference, click here.