0

Free Trade Area of the Americas will be right at home in Georgia

To the editor:

From its earliest days as a colony, Georgia has been a center of trade. James Oglethorpe settled in Savannah because the location served defensive, as well as trading purposes. While international commerce has changed a great deal over the years, Georgia's focus on bringing the world the best it has to offer has not.

There are many advantages to locating the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Georgia. It is home to more than 1,600 foreign-owned businesses representing thirty-nine nations. There are eighteen Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, as well as prominent international organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Care USA and The Carter Center.

Georgia's status as an international transportation hub is another important benefit of locating in the state. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Three major interstates intersect in the heart of downtown Atlanta and the ports of Savannah and Brunswick are two of the fastest growing shipping centers in the world. With these impressive credentials, the Georgia Chamber is working with the Georgia Department of Economic Development to further the state's efforts to be a major factor in international trade by bringing the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas to Atlanta.

What would winning the Secretariat mean to Georgia's economy? Georgia companies would have greater access to markets in thirty-four countries, with more than 800 million consumers and a combined Gross Domestic Product of $14 trillion. According to a study by the University of Georgia, the Secretariat would generate more than 11,000 jobs, as well as add approximately $500 million annually to the state's economy.

The Georgia Chamber is working to strengthen the state's pro-business climate by advocating issues important to the business community in the General Assembly. It also promotes the merits of locating to Georgia by hosting statewide economic development events such as the Red Carpet Tour and the Fall Feather Hunt.

Georgia has a great deal to offer companies and international organizations interested in doing business in the state. It has a highly trained workforce, a modern, developed infrastructure and a quality of life that is unsurpassed. Georgia is a young state with unlimited potential. With the state's growing reputation as an international center, the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas will be right at home.

GEORGE ISRAEL

President & CEO Georgia Chamber of Commerce