With help from former Mayor Sam Massell, the Honorary Consulate of Sweden was able to celebrate the opening of its new office in Buckhead on June 6.
Jill Olander, Sweden’s honorary consul, welcomed 60 Swedish guests and consuls general from Atlanta to its new offices on East Paces Ferry Road. The audience crowded into the new facility to enjoy traditional Swedish food and music from Vasa Drangar, a Swedish men’s choir.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Olander said that when she needed to move the office from another location in Buckhead, she contacted Mr. Massell to find a suitable office in the neighborhood.
Mr. Massell, who was mayor of Atlanta from 1970-74, worked as a realtor in Atlanta and currently serves as the president of the Buckhead Coalition Inc., which develops and increases investment in the area.
Working with James Edenfield, a member of the coalition and owner of the new building, Mr. Massell was able to find a space with no cost to the consulate.
He told GlobalAtlanta that it was very important to keep international organizations like the consulate in Buckhead.
“(An international community) just broadens your options and opportunities dramatically. If you’re limited in your marketing to just your neighborhood, it’s really cutting you short,” he said in a phone interview after the opening.
Buckhead is home to consulates or honorary consulates from 14 countries including Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Greece.
In an effort to expand its international presence, a delegation from the Buckhead Coalition traveled in May to the British territory of Bermuda to make their sister-community relationship official. “It makes us sort of international ourselves now,” said Mr. Massell.
Although currently stalled, Mr. Massell has supported initiatives to build an international district in Buckhead where consulates, trade offices and bi-national chambers of commerce would be located in a single location.
Over the years the coalition has made significant strides to develop the international community. Mr. Massell said the organization was instrumental in bringing the Atlanta International School to the area.
Located on the site of the old North Fulton High School, the school offers an education with an international focus. Mr. Massell called the school a “catalyst for the international life of Buckhead and all of Atlanta.”
The city’s international community was well represented at the opening with half a dozen consuls general in attendance, including Paul Gleeson, Ireland‘s consul general; Annabelle Malins, British consul general and Salvador de Lara, Mexico‘s consul general.