The growing reach of Atlanta’s World Chamber of Commerce will be on display Feb. 2 during its annual meeting and awards gala, which is drawing local officials as well as former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Founded in 2008 to connect the many organizations promoting international business in the Georgia capital, the World Chamber is hosting the event at Woodruff Arts Center in partnership with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Solange Warner, the World Chamber’s founder and president of international business consultancy Ashton International, told GlobalAtlanta there was a need for an organization to coordinate between Georgia’s foreign consulates and bi-national chambers.
“That’s part of the goals of the WCC, to become a liaison of all these different organizations doing international business, international trade, but also for international companies penetrating the local market,” Ms. Warner said.
In addition to consulates and chambers of commerce, the World Chamber is bringing in a number of local organizations promoting Georgia internationally.
Candidates for the chamber’s board of directors, which will be elected at the meeting, include Kathe Falls, director of international trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Louis Miller, general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; and William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Chairperson candidates include Annabelle Mallins, the United Kingdom’s consul general in Atlanta, as well as Charles Shapiro, an Atlanta native, former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela and president of the La Jolla, Calif.-based Institute of the Americas.
The chamber is presenting awards to Mr. Uribe as well as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for their roles in promoting international business and trade. Former United Nations ambassador and World Chamber honorary chairman Andrew Young will be on hand to present the award to Mr. Reed.
Miroslava Torres-Young, the World Chamber’s treasurer, said the event will kick off a series of initiatives for 2012. The organization is establishing an international trade office and will host a number of trade missions this year.
While promoting Atlanta as a business destination, the chamber also aims to provide contacts to incoming businesses to ease their transition to the U.S. market, including immigration services, accountants and attorneys.
Dan Moss, the World Chamber’s vice president, emphasized the local benefits international companies bring to the local economy.
“We have lots of contacts that can help us help people who want to grow and expand here and create jobs,” Mr. Moss said. “It’s all about growth and creating jobs.”
In addition to business promotion, the chamber also undertakes humanitarian initiatives, particularly efforts to raise awareness of and combat human trafficking in Georgia.
Mr. Moss told GlobalAtlanta the scope of this problem locally is not well-known to the general public.
“People think this is going on in Thailand or somewhere, but it’s not, it’s right here on Peachtree Street,” he said.
Federal and state officials are taking steps to combat the problem. The U.S. Attorney’s Office hosted a summit on human trafficking at Georgia State University in August.
Speaking at the event, Gov. Nathan Deal admitted that Atlanta has become known as “one of the hubs of international, global human trafficking.”
In addition to anti-human trafficking initiatives, some of the World Chamber’s proceeds go to CARE, an Atlanta-based organization to combat global poverty.
Admission to the Feb. 2 event is $15 for chamber members, or $20 for entrance to the awards and a concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Non-members must pay $25 for the event or $30 for the event and concert.
Mr. Uribe participated in the Americas Competitiveness Forum when it was held in Atlanta in 2008. To see GlobalAtlanta’s article about his visit, go here.
For more information about the gala and awards ceremony go here.