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German leader encourages business
Consul praises Southeast's lure
Lutz Gorgens, of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, speaks Thursday. - photo by Jennifer Sami
Germany has five good reasons why Georgia is the most attractive place to do business.

Lutz Gorgens said Georgia’s infrastructure and proximity, quality of life and mild climate, qualified labor, international flair and existing German business network are why the country keeps investing capital in Georgia.

Gorgens, of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, spoke Thursday during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee meeting.

“With all that, there’s no region in the U.S. better than the Southeast for German investors and it’s up to you to compete against other ... areas in the Southeast,” he said. “The most obvious advantage of this community is that you are very close to the city and yet don’t live in the city.”

With 30 international and 11 German companies already here, the country is a prime target for economic development recruitment for Forsyth, Gorgens said.

Having Gorgens speak to the business community was “important to just really get his perspective on the market in Germany and the importance of foreign investment,” said Brian Dill, vice president of economic development for the chamber.

“He’s been a friend of our German companies in Forsyth since a lot of them started their operations here,” Dill said. “It was a good fit to have him in the room as we got things going ... he certainly has his hand on the pulse of everything in his country as it pertains to economic development and we all can certainly learn some things from him.”

Gorgens gave a history of German presence in the Southeastern U.S., a relationship which he said works both ways.

While he offered insight into why Germany chooses to invest in America, he also encouraged business leaders to look at Germany when considering European markets.

He called the U.S. Germany’s most important trading partner, noting it and China are the top two countries importing German automobiles.

With the focus on jobs in Georgia, state Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, spoke briefly about the JOBS Act of 2010, which offers incentives to bring more employment to the state.

“Send a message to your investors in Germany that Georgia is certainly open for business,” he told Gorgens. “We will be the beacon of economic recovery for the rest of the nation, and we encourage Germans to come here because we’re going to be ready for them.”

In response to an audience question, Gorgens said three years ago he was concerned about America’s energy priorities. He is now more optimistic, particularly about Forsyth, where environmental and health care technologies are target recruitment industries.

“I am very happy that Forsyth County has chosen two sectors which perfectly correspond to the strengths … of German companies,” he said. “I promise you that [we’ll] support you when you want to invest in Germany, and support you when you want to attract more German investors here to Forsyth County.”