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Atlanta holds special place by hosting the Americas Competitiveness Forum

By Maria Saporta

In 2007, Atlanta launched the Americas Competitiveness Forum as a way to increase trade between North, Central and South Americas.

As a testament to continuity, Atlanta hosted the fourth annual Competitiveness Forum last Sunday to Tuesday attracting more than 500 dignitaries from countries throughout the Americas.

The forum has been able to survive from President George W. Bush’s administration through President Barack Obama’s administration; from Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration through Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke acknowledged Atlanta’s unique role with the forum.

“Atlanta has hosted three of the four forums,” Locke said. “We are especially pleased to have with us so many ministers, ambassadors and consuls here.”

He then recognized the president of El Salvador as well as the vice president of Colombia who were attending the forum.

“There are a myriad of problems we all face, a global economic recession, major disparities in wealth and access to health care,” Locke said. “We need to work together to unlock our full potential — a world that is safer and more prosperous for our children.”

It was a sentiment shared by Mayor Reed.

“Our involvement with this conference has made the City of Atlanta stronger,” Reed said. “As the world begins to regain its bearings from an international recession, when we are done getting through these tough economic times, all of us will be more tested.”

Atlanta has a central position with the Americas Competitiveness Forum because of the presence of CIFAL, which is part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. The institute based the International Training Centers for Local Authorities (CIFAL) in Atlanta.

That’s why Atlanta hosted the first two Americas Forums as well as the fourth one.

“Last year, it was in Santiago, Chile,” said José Ignacio Gonzales, executive chairman of CIFAL Atlanta. Franklin, who would attend the entire conference when she was mayor, actually participated in the Santiago forum.

This year, Reed was present Sunday evening and part of Monday. But then he flew to England for a meeting with Prince Charles.

Now it could be awhile before the Americas Competitiveness Forum returns to Atlanta because of strong demand from other cities in the Americas.

Gonzales said that the forum will be in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 2011. It will be in Cali, Colombia in 2012; and Panama has announced its candidacy to host the convention in 2013.

“”Atlanta was the incubator,” Gonzales said. And because CIFAL Atlanta is a sponsor of the forum Atlanta will continue to have a unique relationship with the annual event.

But it is a relationship that will need to be nurtured by the region’s leaders in their quest of making Atlanta a gateway to the Americas.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. shirley November 23, 2010 10:30 pm

    Thanks for covering the Forum for it is the next generation of international engagement needed to strengthen Altanta’s position with our hemispheric neighbors. CIFAL Atlanta grew out of seeds planted by Mayor Young during his years as UN Ambassador, President Carter and other Georgia based diplomats during the Carter and Clinton years. United Nations affliate, CIFAL Atlanta, with its training programs, strengthens the city’s ties with local and national leaders from the hemisphere as well. Just as Atlanta’s Sister Cities, the Friendship Force and the Consular Corps have created a strong foundation for connecting Atlanta and Georgia to the world and the global economy, the ties and relationships resulting from the Forum will enhance Atlanta’s position as a business gateway to Americas. Congratulations to CIFAL, Director Gonzales, former Atlanta Deputy Borrero and the Atlanta team for another winning event. And thank you to Commerce Secretary Locke and his predecessor for entrusting Atlanta with the important role of launching this exciting endeavor.Report


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