A new online logistics company that provides a one-stop shop for small- to medium-sized companies looking to source to and from China has selected Georgia as its hub for North and South America.

Beijing Marco Polo Global Trade & Logistics Service Ltd., registered on the Internet at i-MarcoPolo.com, will base a representative office in Newnan.

The three-month-old company’s primary goal is to make the international sourcing methods used by the “privileged tier-one corporations” available to entrepreneurs and smaller companies without the economic resources or cultural savvy to break into China themselves, said Victor Claudio, i-MarcoPolo’s Beijing-based CEO.

With many of these tier-one corporations setting up operations in Georgia, Mr. Claudio sees a trend, and he does not want to be left out.

“Georgia is a forerunner when it comes to connecting to China, and that’s why I want to be here,” Mr. Claudio told GlobalAtlanta. “Georgia is not just saying it; they’re doing it.”

In addition to the fact that Bill Craver, i-MarcoPolo’s managing director for North and South America, lives in Coweta County, a variety of other factors directed i-MarcoPolo’s interest toward Georgia.

“(Georgia) has a key port, a very modern port in Savannah utilized by the tier-one corporations like the Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and now Target’s moving in,” Mr. Claudio said.

The Savannah port supports the radio frequency identification technology necessary for advanced container tracking. Mr. Claudio has worked with RFID in other ventures and has invested substantial personal funds so that i-MarcoPolo can offer tracking as one of the company’s many services, he said.

Atlanta and the state government’s sustained efforts to nurture a business environment conducive to global expansion also contributed to the company’s decision, according to Mr. Craver.
“Georgia has really taken the lead for the global economy and…is very active in its efforts to offer reciprocity for China to open manufacturing facilities here,” Mr. Craver said. “We find that there is a lot of support here for our efforts.”

I-MarcoPolo also has established strong partnerships with area companies like Atlanta Customs Brokers & International Freight Forwarders Inc., which specializes in making sure international imports have passed all government inspections and regulations before they enter the country.

Atlanta Customs Brokers relies heavily on Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and its office is near the airport’s newly built fifth runway. The company is authorized to clear shipments in Charleston, S.C. and Savannah as well as Atlanta, said Hector Romero, the company’s vice president.

Mr. Claudio met Mr. Romero in Ningbo, China, while Mr. Romero was on a trade mission with Georgia officials to promote the Port of Savannah.

Since the chance meeting, the two companies have forged a “strategic alliance” to take advantage of one another’s expertise, Mr. Romero told GlobalAtlanta.

“The biggest benefit for us is the increase in the amount of entries that we’ll get here from China, which is the biggest market in the world,” Mr. Romero said. “In (i-MarcoPolo’s) case, they would get a fountain of expertise in how to make products enterable into the U.S.”

The two companies will help each other primarily by referring clients back and forth. Atlanta Customs Brokers has already sent i-MarcoPolo one of its clients, an Italy-based synthetic leather producer that wants to begin sourcing from China, said Mr. Romero.

Mr. Romero’s company sees China as one of its next frontiers, and among the partnership’s advantages, Mr. Romero said that Mr. Claudio being based in Beijing was the most significant.

“The fact that they’re in China says a lot about them. They have an insight that not a lot of people have,” Mr. Romero said.

Although he said it would not happen this year, Mr. Romero would have liked his company to have a booth at the i-MarcoPolo-sponsored “reverse” sourcing fair, set for Sept. 25-27 in Shanghai.

Mr. Claudio and Mr. Craver are inviting entrepreneurs to the fair, where companies will be courted by over 20,000 Chinese suppliers. Major American corporations will be represented at the fair, so the Chinese government will have screened all suppliers to make sure that they adhere to quality standards, Mr. Claudio said.

I-MarcoPolo will represent Georgia’s interests at the fair. The state will not open a booth there, but Mr. Craver will be incorporating information from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce into the company’s marketing presentation.