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Henry's climate draws international attention

Special Photo: Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S., Jaliya Wickramasuriya (from left) presented Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis with an assortment of Ceylon Royal Teas following their meeting on Wednesday. The ambassador, who owns the tea business, resides in Henry County. 

Special Photo: Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S., Jaliya Wickramasuriya (from left) presented Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis with an assortment of Ceylon Royal Teas following their meeting on Wednesday. The ambassador, who owns the tea business, resides in Henry County. 

Henry County leaders are working to develop stronger ties with southern Asia, to enhance economic opportunities locally.

County Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis joined other officials in McDonough, Wednesday, in welcoming the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, and his wife, Priyanga, to the Southern Crescent area.

Mathis said the purpose of the meeting with the ambassador and his wife, was to give them an overview of the county, to learn more about them and their country, and to discuss ways Henry County and Sri Lanka can forge a stronger relationship.

“We welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the ambassador and his tea business, Ceylon Royal Tea, as well as his country and its growing industries,” said Mathis. “The significance of the meeting was beyond measure. Sri Lankan businesses looking to expand to the U.S., will be introduced to Henry County. We will also be able to make introductions between product manufacturers in Henry County, and end users in Sri Lanka.

“I am very excited about building a strong and lasting relationship with Sri Lanka, that will help us create ideal opportunities for mutual benefit,” Mathis said.

She said she extended an invitation to the ambassador several months ago, after learning that he resides in Henry County.

“Henry County is our second home, after Sri Lanka,” said Wickramasuriya. “Our son started school here. He is now 17. We love Henry County.”

The ambassador said the climate in Henry is similar to that of Sri Lanka.

Mathis said Henry officials highlighted various strong points of the community for the ambassador, including the county’s proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the Port of Savannah.

She also touted Henry’s newly-acquired airport, in Hampton, and Interstate 75, as well as the availability of land and water, which she said, “make us an ideal location to conduct business.”

Other notables on hand for the ambassador’s visit were: Henry County Manager James C. “Butch” Sanders, District II Commissioner Fred Auletta, Henry County Police Chief Keith Nichols, and Executive Director of the Henry County Development Authority Bob White.

White said the opportunities he discussed with Wickramasuriya will enable Henry County to take its international outreach to a much higher level.

The county counts among its international companies, Nestlé, from Switzerland; Toppan Interamerica, from Japan; Luxottica, from Italy; ALPLA, from Austria; and Kumho Tire and LG Electronics, both from Korea, according to county spokesperson, Julie Hoover-Ernst.