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Atlanta welcomes FTAA.

The new home of the Free Trade Area of the Americas' Secretariat should be strategically located for the 34 countries in the hemisphere. It should be a place with strong business connections and an extensive hospitality, transportation and technology infrastructure for business leaders throughout the Americas.

Atlanta, Georgia, is where the world's trade leaders come when they want to do business. More than 1,600 foreign headquarters representing 39 countries are located in the state. Today, Georgia is home to more than 15 Fortune 500 and 30 Fortune 1000 headquarters.

Hundreds of thousands of people saw Atlanta for the first time when the city hosted the 1996 Olympics, securing its place on the international stage. Atlanta and Georgia are proud of what visitors see when the spotlight shines on the city and state. Atlanta, Georgia, is the Gateway to the Americas and its government, civic and business leaders are committed to creating opportunities to do business with the Americas.

You will soon be hearing more about "Atlanta, Georgia--Gateway to the Americas," and the story of the commercial center of the Southeastern U.S. You are invited to visit Georgia's great capital city to experience for yourself its business-friendly climate and Southern hospitality.

TEN REASONS WHY ATLANTA, GEORGIA, IS THE BEST SITE FOR THE FTAA SECRETARIAT

Propelled by its "can-do" civic spirit, Atlanta, Georgia, has become the leading business center in the Southeastern United States and a powerful economic force throughout the Americas. A sophisticated and diverse metropolis of more than 4 million people, Atlanta today is ready to capitalize on its strength in the international business arena to become the permanent home of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Secretariat.

Atlanta's success in hosting global events like the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, as well as its convenient air service, skilled workforce and high quality of life, are compelling reasons for bringing the Secretariat to this gracious community, say civic leaders.

And as governments and private enterprise join together in the FTAA to expand business opportunities and improve the lives of people throughout the Western Hemisphere, Atlanta has yet another advantage to offer: Nobody knows more about building effective government-business partnerships than Atlanta.

"Targeting the FTAA Secretariat is just the latest in Georgia's investment in international economic growth," says Gov. Sonny Perdue, who serves as chairman of the board of Hemisphere Inc., a nonprofit enterprise that is spearheading "Atlanta, Georgia--Gateway to the Americas," the state's effort to locate the FTAA Secretariat permanently in Atlanta.

Civic leaders know that Atlanta--as the leading city in the fast-growing region of the United States--has the hospitality and convention infrastructure necessary to service both the FTAA Secretariat and the international business community. Atlanta has more than 90,000 hotel rooms, 8,000 restaurants and state-of-the-art meeting end trade show facilities.

"Atlanta and the state of Georgia are rising stars in international business and continue to gain momentum as a leading destination for trade, investment and tourism," says Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. "The Secretariat will need a strong business, transportation and hospitality infrastructure, and Atlanta has the resources in place to serve as the leading commercial center in the Southeast and the business and trade capital of the hemisphere."

Following its scheduled implementation in 2005, the FTAA will encompass 34 countries with approximately 800 million consumers and will create a free trade zone with a gross annual product of more than US$14 trillion. The headquarters of this hemispheric organization will be charged with administering the world's largest trading bloc. The FTAA Secretariat will be the crossroads for trade and business connections in the Americas.

As Tom Chapman, chairman and CEO of Equifax Inc. and vice-chair of the board of Hemisphere Inc., says, "We have the winning team and strategy in place to make this effort a success. The FTAA is vital in the future economic well-being of the region."

Following are the top 10 reasons Atlanta, Georgia, is the best site for the FTAA Secretariat.

1. ATLANTA IS A GLOBAL BUSINESS CENTER

For decades, U.S. companies have recognized Atlanta's excellence in the world of business. Now, the rest of the world has realized that this dynamic metropolitan region is an ideal location conducting global business, as well.

"Atlanta is the leading commercial center in the Southeastern United States," says Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. "It makes sense for the Free Trade headquarters to be located here."

Atlanta's corporate community includes 13 Fortune 500 and 25 Fortune 1000 headquarters, such as BellSouth, CNN, the Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Equifax, Home Depot, and UPS. All these companies have deep and long-standing relationships in Canadian business centers like Toronto and Montreal, and all are conducting business throughout the Western Hemisphere.

"The business community sets the tone for Atlanta," says Tom McInerney, president and CEO of ING U.S. Financial Services, part of Amsterdam-based ING Group N.V., one of the world's largest integrated financial services organizations. "Atlanta is our regional headquarters for the Americas because of the city's strong workforce, high quality of life and excellent transportation facilities."

Atlanta is also the home to CNN en Espanol, the headquarters for Siemens Energy and Automation division, Scientific Atlanta, and Kimberly Clark, and the North American headquarters to companies from Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. All together, the state has more than 1,600 foreign-headquartered companies representing 39 countries that collectively employ more than 125,000 people with an estimated $15.5 billion in capital investment. This flow of international investment has also benefited neighboring states like Tennessee, Alabama, and North and South Carolina.

Recognizing the growing importance of Atlanta to the global economy, 54 countries have consular, trade, investment or chamber of commerce offices in the state, and 10 international banks are based here.

2. ATLANTA BUILDS EFFECTIVE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS

Atlanta's economic success in recent decades has been driven by effective partnerships among public sector, local research and academic institutions, and the business community. For instance, Georgia Allies is a partnership between state government and private corporations that aggressively promotes Georgia's business development.

The Georgia Research Alliance is an internationally acclaimed model for bringing business, research universities and state government together to create and sustain a vibrant, technology-driven economy for the state.

The latest example of the state's spirit of partnership is Hemisphere Inc., which is harmonizing activities to showcase Atlanta as the right choice for the FTAA Secretariat headquarters. Led by Georgia's governor, Atlanta's mayor and key business executives, Hemisphere Inc. is building greater international awareness of Atlanta, developing strong grassroots support and raising funds.

Georgia's effort to locate the Secretariat began two years ago when the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport and Georgia's business leaders came together to define a strategy for attracting the Secretariat to Atlanta.

"We want to build a partnership that works for the whole hemisphere," says Glenn Cornell, commissioner, Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism. "Atlanta's and Georgia's civic and business leaders have experience building lasting relationships across the whole region, from Canada, to the Caribbean, to Latin America."

The state's International Trade Division actively supports businesses in Georgia, as well as international firms looking for American partners. With resources that include an export assistance center, detailed financial and legal guidance, and a team of trade experts in countries throughout the world, Georgia's public-private partnerships are designed to make global commerce easy.

"We know that we stand to gain from a growing partnership with our friends across the hemisphere," adds Cornell. "Atlanta truly presents a win-win situation."

3. ATLANTA HAS WORLD-CLASS MEETING FACILITIES

With conference facilities for every business need, Atlanta is one of the top five U.S. cities in terms of conventions and trade shows, hosting more than 3,000 business meetings each year. The city's downtown hotel base has more than 12,000 rooms, with more than 90,000 rooms available in the metropolitan area.

"We have the infrastructure to accommodate an important office like the FTAA Secretariat," says Spurgeon Richardson, president, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Atlanta is highly experienced in hosting meetings, trade shows and major exhibitions. It's not unusual for 50,000 to 75,000 people to attend a meeting in Atlanta."

There are more than 3 million square feet of exhibit facilities within a 10-mile radius of downtown Atlanta. With 1.5 million square feet under one roof, the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta is the most heavily booked convention center in the United States.

Other facilities are available across the state, ranging from the state-of-the-art Savannah International Trade and Convention Center to luxury retreats perfect for low-profile meetings.

4. AS A HOST CITY, ATLANTA OFFERS WARM SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

Business travelers and tourists from around the world appreciate Atlanta's unique style of warm Southern hospitality. Every year, Atlanta greets more than 17 million visitors, including a growing number from overseas. In 2002, Georgia attracted more than 800,000 international visitors.

Atlanta recently hosted a negotiating round of the Free Trade Agreement between Chile and the U.S., as well as the ALACAT convention (the Latin American/Caribbean federation of cargo agents) and other activities targeted at audiences in the Americas.

"Atlanta's international focus has grown and developed over the last 30 years," says Gordon Giffin, chair, Metro Atlanta Chamber's International Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada. "The culminating event was the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, which put us on the world stage."

During the 17 days of the 1996 Olympics, Atlanta's civic and business leaders teamed up to welcome more than 2.5 million visitors, as well as a global television audience in the billions.

Atlanta has also been a congenial host city for Major League Baseball's World Series, the 1994 and 2000 Super Bowls, and the NCAA "Final Four" collegiate basketball tournament. In fact, Atlanta is a center for major league sports in the United States with seven professional teams.

5. ATLANTA OFFERS A STRATEGIC LOCATION WITH CONVENIENT ACCESS TO THE AMERICAS

Atlanta is centrally located in the fastest-growing U.S. region--the Southeast. It's the crossroads of the Americas by air, land and sea with the world's busiest airport, two deepwater ports and the most extensive surface transportation network in the country. As the westernmost location in the Eastern Time Zone, Atlanta shares common business hours with the majority of the United States, Europe and Central and South America.

"Atlanta is the most strategic location in the hemisphere for the Secretariat," says Carlos Martel, deputy commissioner for international trade, Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism.

With its international air and seaports, Atlanta provides convenient access for passengers and cargo from throughout the Americas. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport ranks first in the world, serving more than 76.8 million passengers in 2002. Hartsfield also ranks in the top 10 U.S. airports in cargo volume and has 24 cargo airlines.

"We are a vital link in the international transportation system," says Robert Kennedy, the airport's director of marketing, public relations and intergovernmental affairs.

Located just south of downtown Atlanta, Hartsfield offers 2,000 daily flights with direct passenger service on 21 airlines to more than 180 cities worldwide. More than 500 direct flights are available to cities throughout the hemisphere, including more than 20 Latin American and Caribbean destinations. There are more than 150 weekly flights to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, Canada, alone.

Of the top 10 U.S. airports, Hartsfield was the only one to show growth in passenger traffic over the past year, according to Kennedy. "We have added new flights, new service and new carriers," he says. "Even in this difficult time for air travel, we continue to be successful."

On the cargo side, Hartsfield has added new service to Latin America and Europe this year, and its Asian service has grown from 15 to 20 wide body all-cargo aircraft per week.

To accommodate its increased international and domestic service, Hartsfield has embarked on a $5.4 billion expansion program that includes a new runway and a new international terminal with direct access from Interstate 75.

6. ATLANTA IS A LEADING INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTER

Two of Georgia's leading trade partners are Canada and Mexico, and trade with Latin America and the Caribbean is growing rapidly. In 2002, Georgia exported nearly $14.4 billion worth of goods, including nearly $2.7 billion to Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than $3.6 billion to Canada.

Atlanta is quickly becoming the gateway to Latin America in the perishables and air cargo industry. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Hartsfield International Airport have targeted large flower wholesalers and growers to fly their shipments directly to Atlanta, adding 24 hours or more of shelf life for a product. Atlanta also has more connectivity--air and over land--than other cities, with many more routes to Canada and Europe than other gateway cities in the South.

Georgia's state-of-the-art deepwater ports in Savannah and Brunswick handle everything from automobiles to grain. The Port of Savannah--located four hours from Atlanta--is the largest container port in the Southeast and is the fastest-growing port in the United States, while Brunswick is one of the largest auto ports on the East Coast.

To accommodate growth in seaborne cargo, the Georgia Ports Authority has approved projects that will enhance operations and add new gantry cranes at the Port of Savannah.

The Port Authority maintains offices in Atlanta, Savannah, Brunswick, Chicago, New York, Buenos Aires, Oslo, Athens and Tokyo for truly global convenience.

Georgia also has three general-purpose Foreign Trade Zones in Atlanta, Brunswick and Savannah, where firms can delay, reduce and, in certain cases, eliminate U.S. customs duties on imported items.

7. ATLANTA IS AN INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY HUB

Atlanta boasts a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure that provides instant, high-speed access throughout the Americas and serves as both a nexus of commerce and a cradle for new ideas. The first fiber-optic cable was manufactured in Georgia, which is now the transmission hub for two of the largest fiber-optic trunk routes in the United States.

Georgia is moving into a world-leadership position in the industries that will mold the future. Several initiatives are making the state a global leader in the design of broadband communications systems, devices and chips.

Such initiatives leverage Georgia's existing high-tech base with resources from private sector companies, major universities, the research community and more than $100 million in state funds.

The state is also a leader in communications research. For example, the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology (GCATT) is involved in everything from new product development to providing space and equipment for technology start-ups. Formed in 1991, the GCATT is another example of the state's partnership approach, as industry, government and universities work together in a three-pronged strategy for hightech economic development in Georgia.

8. ATLANTA IS A VIBRANT AND DIVERSE INTERNATIONAL CITY WITH A GROWING LATIN COMMUNITY

Metropolitan Atlanta's diverse population of more than 4 million includes people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. "Atlanta has a long history of being open to diversity and cultural expansion," says Giffin. "That's been an important contributor to the economic health of our city, state and region."

"Atlanta's Hispanic community has a long tradition of working together regardless of their original nationality," adds Rey Pascual, partner and chair of the Latin American Practice Group of Kilpatrick Stockton, a law firm in Atlanta. Pascual is also founder and director of United Americas Bank, a Hispanic-owned Atlanta financial institution that has enjoyed 50 percent annual growth in assets since its founding three years ago. "In Atlanta, we all work together, and we have been doing so for many years."

The Latin population in Atlanta has increased significantly over the past 10 years, and there are now more than 500,000 Spanish-speaking people in the state. "Latin Americans come to Atlanta and find a welcoming environment," says Sara Gonzalez, president, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta.

Gonzalez adds that the Hispanic chamber has grown rapidly since it was launched in 1996 with 172 members. "We now have more than 1,200 members, and we're still growing," she says. "We focus on helping our members become entrepreneurs and help corporate America learn about us and how to do business with the Latino community."

9. ATLANTA HAS A SKILLED WORKFORCE AND RENOWNED ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS

A skilled workforce is one of Atlanta's most valuable assets. The U.S. Census Bureau ranks Atlanta second in the nation in the percentage of its population with a college degree. In fact, Atlanta leads the United States in attracting college graduates, ahead of Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas.

Georgia ranks in the top 10 states in terms of technology employment, and Atlanta is second among 30 U.S. cities in software job growth.

Georgia's nationally acclaimed workforce training program, Quick Start, has partnered with more than 3,400 companies since 1967. Quick Start has created customized training for nearly 250,000 Georgia workers at little or no cost to the companies involved.

Georgia is home to world-class universities, including Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), The University of Georgia and Georgia State University.

The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, part of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Goizueta Business School at Emory, the Dean Rusk Center at The University of Georgia, and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University offer extensive degree programs in business and international studies.

The Atlanta International School offers a program of academic excellence to American and international students, with more than 60 countries represented in the school community. Mercer University and the Georgia Institute of Technology offer intensive English programs designed to serve the needs of international students who want to enroll at a U.S. university.

10. ATLANTA OFFERS AN EXCEPTIONAL LIFESTYLE

Rolling hills, golf courses, peaceful lakes and quiet neighborhoods--that's one side of life in Atlanta. For those who enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle, Atlanta is filled with art galleries, cultural events, sophisticated shopping and gourmet restaurants. Atlanta has more than 4,000 arts and cultural entertainment venues, including popular Mexican, Brazilian and Argentine restaurants.

For veteran shoppers, Atlanta's famed Mall of Georgia includes hundreds of stores, five themed courtyards and an outdoor concert venue. Other choices include the famed Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza (Atlanta's premier upscale shopping malls), and shopping outlets in towns such as Darien, Commerce and Dawsonville. A short drive from Atlanta are wooded mountains, sandy beaches, Civil War battlefields, family amusement parks and all the attractions of Georgia's gentle, four-season climate.

In addition to their high quality of life, Atlanta residents appreciate their relatively low cost of living. "This is a beautiful city," says Pascual, "and a very affordable place to live."

Combining these lifestyle choices with a strong state economy, it's not surprising that Georgia has become the fourth fastest-growing state in the United States, with 380,000 new residents expected by 2005.

CONCLUSION; A RIGHT CHOICE

As the commercial center of the southeastern United States, Atlanta has the strong business, transportation, and hospitality infrastructure that will be needed to support the FTAA Secretariat.

Atlanta's diverse industry base, wealth of Fortune 500 company headquarters and world class universities provide the corporate and educational strengths that the secretariat will need to effectively serve the FTAA member countries. In addition, Atlanta's direct passenger and cargo routes will significantly increase trade opportunities with Latin America and Canada.

"We are passionate about bringing the FTAA Secretariat to Atlanta," says Mayor Shirley Franklin. "When you consider all that we have to offer in the international arena, we believe you will agree that Atlanta is indeed the right choice."

ABOUT GEORGIA

* Georgia is a diverse state with nearly 100 miles of coastline, the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, multiple rivers and fer the farmland.

* About half of the state's 8.3 million people live in Atlanta, the state capital.

* Georgia's nickname is "The Peach State."

* Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River, slightly smaller than Honduras.

* Georgia is a right to work state with low taxes that have not been raised since 1969 and a balanced budget requirement.

* Georgia has a stable Standard and Poor's rating of AA+, a Moody's Aaa credit rating and a Finch's AAA rating.

* Famous Georgians include President Jimmy Carter; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Andrew Young, first African-American ambassador to the United Nations; Ted Turner, founder of CNN; Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts; and Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With The Wind."

GEORGIA COMPANIES

Companies headquartered in Georgia include:

* AFLAC

* CARE

* Ciba Vision

* CNN

* The Coca-Cola Company

* Delta Air Lines

* Earthlink

* Equifax

* Gulfstream Aerospace

* Home Depot

* Internet Security Systems

* Philips Electronics (North American headquarters)

* Pirelli Tire North America

* Porsche North America

* Ritz-Carlton Hotels

* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control

* United Parcel Service (UPS)

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ATLANTA, GEORGIA'S FTAA EFFORTS, CONTACT:

Carlos Martel Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism (Departamento de Industria, Comercio y Turismo de Georgia) 404.657.0670

Hans Gant Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (Camara Metropolitana de Comercio de Atlanta) 404.586.8456

Bill Howard Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (Oficina de Convenciones y Visitantes de Atlanta) 404.521.6634

RELATED ARTICLE: An open letter of invitation to the Americas.

The countries of the Western Hemisphere are growing more closely linked now than at any time in history. They have long-standing covenants in place to promote mutual security and in recent years have expressed their shared values for democracy and transparency through new international agreements. The region's leaders meet regularly in Summits that have produced important commitments, such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the Democracy Charter.

Throughout my term in office I sought to strengthen inter-American relations through my negotiation of the Panama Canal Treaties, visits to Latin America, and efforts to improve relations with Cuba. My hope is that the region will build on its common interests to reach agreement on a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005, as the member countries have committed to do. Enlightened leadership from the business community will be essential to assure that trade promotion is accompanied by a proper distribution of the benefits of economic growth so that we may reduce inequality and remedy poverty in our countries.

If the countries of the Western Hemisphere decide that it would benefit them to locate the headquarters for the Free Trade Area of the Americas in the United States, the city of Atlanta would be delighted to offer its support to the hemisphere by hosting that body. During my term as Governor I convened a meeting of the Organization of American States in Atlanta, and personally attended each annual meeting of the OAS when I was President. The city of Atlanta has hosted the Olympic Games and become the headquarters for such international organizations as CNN and CARE.

Atlanta is the home of the Carter Center, and the permanent headquarters for The Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas. Thirty-five of us leaders comprise this organization. I and other Georgians would welcome you and will work with enthusiasm and sensitivity to strengthen inter-American relations, to the benefit of every citizen in the hemisphere.

President Jimmy Carter
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Title Annotation:Free Trade Area of the Americas; Special Advertising Feature
Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1U5GA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:3887
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