During his visit to Atlanta the week of May 5, Urs Ziswiler, Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States, visited IBISouth, the new international business incubator, which seeks to open doors for small- and medium-sized overseas companies wishing to enter U.S. markets.
Mr. Ziswiler, who has been posted to Washington since May 2006, met with Kevin Krause, the CEO and founder of the incubator; Kathy Nunnally Anemogiannis, the incubator’s operations and organizational development officer and representatives of companies that are settling into the space at 303 Perimeter Center North.
The Swiss American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast is one of the first Atlanta-based bi-national chambers to encourage its newly arrived members to settle in and use the incubator’s facilities and services. Claudio Leoncavallo, Switzerland’s consul general in Atlanta, accompanied Mr. Ziswiler on the visit.
IBISouth’s Web site at www.ibisouth.com displays a variety of doors to symbolize its activities, and in a similar vein, Mr. Ziswiler discussed how he has spent past weeks opening doors in Washington for Swiss officials desirous to meet their counterparts in the new administration of President Obama.
“There are something like 3,000 new postings at the top level in the administration,” Mr Ziswiler said, “and back home everyone wants to see them.”
Admitting that with the change of administrations, he personally knows only from 10-20 percent of the new appointees, the task of keeping up with his government’s requests has been challenging.
Nevertheless, he has been able to make some important introductions because of Switzerland’s close political and economic relations with the U.S., which it represents in Cuba and Iran.
He was especially pleased to have been able to introduce his foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of Switzerland’s role as a mediator for a framework agreement between Turkey and Armenia. This was established to normalize relations between the two nations that have been at odds since the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman military during the time of the Ottoman Empire and World War I.
Ms. Calmy-Rey also met with Mr. Obama in Turkey where he made the first overseas trip of his administration in early April.
Mr. Ziswiler said that he was able to arrange for the Swiss finance minister, Hans-Rudolph Merz, to meet U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, but that Mr. Geithner’s availability was probably due to the financial woes of the Swiss banking giant UBS AG. and the global financial crisis.
To learn more about Mr. Ziswiler’s visit, call the Swiss consulate general at (404) 870-2001. Ms. Anemogiannis of IBISouth may be reached by calling (678) 690-8555 or by sending an email to Kathy@ibisouth.com