Spanish government and business leaders will visit Atlanta April 4-5 in search of partners to help them do business in Georgia.

A Georgia-Spain Business Forum will be held at the Metro Atlanta Chamber on April 5 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The forum will follow an April 4 reception for the group, which will be led by Christina Barrios, Spain’s consul general in Miami, and Mario Buisán, the trade commissioner at the consulate.

The visit will highlight opportunities in Spain’s automotive, life sciences, information technology and renewable energy industries.

“They’re coming to explore the markets, but also they’re coming to seek out business partners,” said Ric Hubler, director of global business growth at the chamber. 

U.S. Census Bureau figures show that Georgia exported $394 million in goods to Spain in 2010, 68.5 percent more than the previous year. Nine Spanish companies have operations in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Spain’s influence around the U.S. Southeast is growing, said Ignacio Taboada, the country’s honorary consul in Georgia. He cited the presence of companies like Aldeasa, a major airport retailer that operates duty-free stores at the Atlanta airport.   

It’s likely that the energy sector will be high on the event’s agenda as Spain looks to sell its wind-energy expertise, Mr. Taboada said. 

“That’s where we’re really advanced,” he said. 

About 1,000 Spaniards are living and working in Georgia, a number that reaches to about 3,000 when counting those studying here. Though some Spanish businesses have invested in the state, the country’s relationship with Georgia hasn’t been as strategic as it could be, Mr. Taboada added. 

Ms. Barrios, the new consul general in Miami, is seeking to improve those ties, he said. 

Atlanta, meanwhile, is trying to supplant Miami as the business hub for the Americas, said Mr. Hubler. Miami, the traditional destination, will always have its niche, but Atlanta hopes to use its air access to win business from companies looking to serve the hemisphere. 

“It’s kind of 20th century versus 21st century,” he said of the Atlanta-Miami contest. “There’s always going to be competition there. It’s history versus the future.”

Spain has been lumped with Portugal and Greece among those European countries facing an unsustainable burden of sovereign debt. With a much larger and internationally connected economy, Spain is different from those countries, Mr. Taboada said. 

Much more worrisome than the debt, the country’s main challenges are a high unemployment rate coupled with lack of flexibility in the labor market, he said.

Interested companies can set up one-on-one meetings with the Spanish companies in the delegation by contacting Isabel Dávila at (305) 446-4387 or

To RSVP for the business forum, contact Ric Hubler at (404) 586-8455 or

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...