Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
European Union Ambassador to the United States John Bruton and Finland’s ambassador to the U.S., Pekka Lintu, are to be in Atlanta Wednesday, Sept. 13, to meet with local businesspeople, James Gaffey announced at the ninth annual dinner of the International Leadership Council on Aug. 22.

Mr. Gaffey, who is executive director of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce of the United States Inc., is helping to organize the ambassadors’ visit in Atlanta.

Mr. Bruton, a former prime minister of Ireland, and Mr. Lintu, who represents the current presidency of the European Union held by Finland, are coming to Atlanta to reinforce to businesspersons the importance of Europe’s trade and investment relationship with the Southeast.

Mr. Gaffey was one of more than 40 heads of Atlanta’s international chambers who attended the council dinner that was held at the Midtown office of law firm Jones Day.

The 13-year-old council brings together chamber leaders from across the city who are working to grow business activity between their respective countries and Georgia.

During the dinner, individuals who represented Asian, European and Latin American countries were encouraged to work collaboratively and be specific about their chamber offerings.

“Stay focused, build a network of contacts, provide a business value to your members and inevitably things are bound to happen,” said Tom Glaser who heads up the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast Region.

Mr. Glaser, along with Kristian Wolf, CEO of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States Inc., spoke about their chambers’ respective operational strategies, as both are aggressively recruiting new businesses to Georgia.

The Israeli chamber has some 400 members across the Southeast and has helped to bring more than 40 companies to Georgia since its inception in 1992. The chamber has also taken three Georgia governors to Israel on trade missions to the country, Mr. Glaser said.

The German chamber has also worked to recruit a significant amount of business to the Southeast since it opened in 1978 as the first international chamber in Georgia.

Since then, it has helped to bring more than 300 German companies to Georgia and has also established recruitment programs for specific regions of Germany including Bavaria, Lower Saxony and the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Also speaking at the council dinner were Jorge Fernandez, vice president of global commerce at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Jim Maddox, city councilman and chairperson of the council’s Advisory Committee on International Relations.

Both men confirmed Atlanta’s private and public sector support for international chamber initiatives.

For more information on the ILC, contact Mark Pierson, council chairman who organized the event, at (404) 663-2606 or send an email to

To learn more about the ambassadors’ visit, contact Mr. Gaffey at (770) 448-0685.