The Americas Competitiveness Forum has refined its programs and established an organizational framework for the future, said Jose Ignacio Gonzalez.

For the mainstream business community in Atlanta, the Americas Competitiveness Forum is just one more convention in a town that hosts hundreds every year.

But for leaders from 34 countries throughout the Western Hemisphere, it has become a premier venue for sharing best practices on issues affecting regional economic competitiveness, including energy, infrastructure, innovation, trade, water supply and many more.

When the forum came to Atlanta in November for the third time in four years, former GlobalAtlanta editorial director Leigh Miller Villegas visited from her home in Uruguay to cover it as diligently as she did during its kickoff year in 2007.

Through interviews with forum organizers, executives and high-ranking government officials like Colombia‘s vice president, Angelino Garzón, she learned that the forum is entering a new era. Held in Santiago, Chile, last year, the event will once again move out of Atlanta in 2011, and this time it’s leaving for the foreseeable future.

“The baby has come out of the cradle,” said Jose Ignacio Gonzalez, the 2010 forum’s executive secretary and executive director of CIFAL Atlanta, a training center for government and civil society leaders.

This year, Atlanta passed the torch to the Inter-American Competitiveness Network, a group comprised of the heads of national competitiveness councils throughout the hemisphere. CIFAL will continue to provide input as the network organizes the forum in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama over the next three years.

Visit to read the full report, which covers topics such as U.S. small business exports, investment opportunities in Panama and Uruguay, Canadian research and development, innovation, transportation, Colombian free-trade agreements and many more.

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...