Georgia government and business officials are seeking to attract some of Spain’s largest banking, energy and telecommunications companies to establish themselves here as part of local efforts to make Atlanta a gateway to Latin America.

“The goal is to create a focused cluster of Spanish companies in Atlanta to take advantage of the large infrastructure companies headquartered here,” said Michael Peck, president Washington-based MAPA Inc. consulting firm, who has been working with Georgia officials on this initiative.

Mr. Peck brought a delegation of Spanish corporate representatives here two weeks ago for initial meetings with local companies.

Atlanta is a natural gateway for Spanish corporations to enter U.S. markets and for U.S. companies to access Latin America, Mr. Peck told GlobalFax in an interview. Spanish multinationals own 20% of all infrastructure companies in Latin America, and they are using Mexico as a jumping-off platform to the U.S., he explained. Since Georgia and Mexico have a very strong trade relationship, it’s a “perfect” link, he added.

Atlanta outshines Miami or New York as a U.S. entry point for Spanish companies because leading Atlanta companies such as BellSouth Corp. are spending millions of dollars to push into Latin America, Mr. Peck noted. And they typically do not have to compete with each other because they occupy different industry sectors and business segments, he added.

Georgia also has high-level Hispanic executives in key industries – the same infrastructure sectors dominated by Spanish corporations in Latin America, Mr. Peck said. If Georgia’s Hispanic business community reaches out to infrastructure companies in Latin America, he added, the state can become more competitive in trade with that region.

Although Spain has the 5th largest gross domestic product in the European Union, it is the most underrepresented EU country in the U.S., Mr. Peck noted. Spanish companies, however, have revolutionized the banking, energy and telecom sectors in Latin America, and now it is time for Spanish business to “take investment to the next point” by leveraging U.S. markets, he asserted.

Hosting the delegation were State Rep. Terry Coleman (D-Eastman), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Tim Evans, assistant deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism (GDITT);

Carlos Martel, deputy commissioner of GDITT, Trip Martin, founder of GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group and new lobbyist for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Mario Trujillo, president of FinanzaDirecto money transfer service.

Contact Mr. Martel at (404) 656-3571 or Mr. Peck at (202) 463-7877 for more information.