Gov. Nathan Deal arrived today in Switzerland for an economic development mission that will focus on expanding business relationships there and in The Netherlands. The mission, which will conclude July 27, includes Commissioner Chris Cummiskey and other representatives of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Mrs. Deal and Swiss Consul-General to the Southeastern U.S. Claudio Leoncavallo will also accompany the delegation. This is the third of four business trips Deal will make in 2012.
"As a member of the global business community, Georgia understands the value of cultivating corporate connections both foreign and domestic," said Deal. "It's a pleasure to renew connections and reciprocate visits of business and government leaders who have traveled to Georgia in the past and to initiate new friendships that may lead to mutually beneficial opportunities."
The delegation will visit the cities of Zurich, Basel, Bern and Amsterdam, meeting with high-level government ministers and business leaders to explore business opportunities. Many of the companies on the itinerary already have operations in Georgia, including Landis + Gyr, Novartis, Habasit and RWE in Switzerland, and Vanderlande, TenCate and Philips Electronics in The Netherlands.
In Zurich, Deal will discuss U.S. manufacturing trends and Georgia's investment opportunities in a keynote address to the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce. In Basel, the governor has been invited by Brugg Cables to discuss Georgia's business advantages with a group of invited business leaders. Brugg Cables is a subsidiary of the Suhner Group, which has operated a facility in Rome, Ga., since 1976 -- the first-ever Swiss investment in Georgia. Brugg also maintains a facility in Rome.
In other activities, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Donald Beyer will meet with the governor and host a business dinner for the delegation in Bern. Mrs. Deal will meet with representatives of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, as well as with local organizations supporting children and education.
"When company CEOs have the chance to meet with the governor of the state, it has a profound impact on their thinking about Georgia," said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. "The frank conversations that ensue during these encounters often lead to new understandings for both parties, and lay the groundwork for future relationships."
The state of Georgia has long cultivated relationships in this region through its international office serving the EU. Switzerland ranks sixth among international investors in Georgia for total employment and seventh in total number of international facilities in Georgia. More than 180 Swiss companies operate in Georgia, employing more than 11,700 Georgians, and at least 18 Georgia companies have operations in Switzerland, including AGCO, CIBA Vision, Interface, Invesco, Novelis, Coca-Cola and UPS. In 2011, Georgia exports to Switzerland exceeded $98 million, and imports from Switzerland totaled more than $390 million.
Dutch companies have established more than 250 facilities in Georgia, representing 27,900 jobs and $2.5 billion in investment. The Netherlands ranks fourth among European investors in Georgia. At least 43 Georgia companies have facilities in The Netherlands, including AGCO, Georgia-Pacific, Newell-Rubbermaid and Kimberly-Clark. The Netherlands is the 15th largest export market for Georgia, and 19th largest import market. In 2011, the total value of trade between Georgia and The Netherlands totaled $1.25 billion.