Taking Shots for a Cause: The 12th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

written by Nicole Prybula

The 12th Annual Charity Golf Tournament, hosted by the German-American Cultural Foundation on September 5th, was a ‘hole in one’!

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13 teams took the ‘long drive’ to Bear’s Best Golf Course in Suwanee, Georgia to raise some ‘green’ for the German School of Atlanta, and ‘tee up’ for a fun day full of swings, putts, chips and pitches.

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The generous contributions made by the Golf Tournament’s players and sponsors enabled the German School of Atlanta to purchase brand new German books from the German accelerated reader program Antolin, as well as purchase a new web-based library software.

Following the tournament, the players enjoyed a southern BBQ lunch as they anxiously awaited the announcement of the winners, and engaged in some more competition to win the exciting raffle prizes. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!

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We would like to thank BESTAR, LLC for co-organizing the event with us, and to the German-American Cultural Foundation for their continuous support.

Pictures from the event can be found here.

A visitor from Latvia…

Written by Ginta Petra, German Baltic Chamber of Commerce

Dear colleagues,
Dear readers,

The worldwide network of www.ahk.de and especially the AHK project VETnet financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research made it possible for two exceptional weeks to change my place of residence from German Baltic Chamber of Commerce (AHK Baltic States) in Riga (Latvia), to the AHK in Atlanta (USA).

Being asked to write a blog about my 12-days stay with the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc. (GACC South) I decided to organize* my story in some (hopefully) easy understandable sections.

  1. GACC South for beginners.

In order to let you imagine who the GACC South is, I would be glad to repeat it in all languages and everywhere in the world: the colleagues at the GACC South are so kind, professional, polite and welcoming everywhere and everybody! Might it be the open office which makes everybody to feel so good? Or might it be that people at the GACC South are hired taking into account their horoscopes? Or might it be the southern climate with sunnier days than everywhere else? Or, maybe, the mix of nationalities?I felt very welcomed, from the moment I was picked up by sunny Stefanie on the Sunday night. But the biggest surprise I experienced the next morning, when I woke up on the 55th floor in the hotel, I went to the window and saw this.

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(Needless to say that my first name starts with G and last name – with P. Thank you, friends!)

  1. Atlanta for beginners.

Atlanta proves the nickname “Hotlanta” – the temperature in August increases till the following.

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I learned and saw it personally that Atlanta is the birth place of Martin Luther King, Margaret Mitchell and her “Gone with the Wind”. Atlanta hosted the summer Olympic Games of 1996, and is headquarter city of the GACC South (!), Baseball team Braves, CNN and Coca Cola.

The people in Atlanta speak soooo fast. I couldn’t understand almost anything without asking to repeat. Mostly I used the strategy just to smile, and it helped – almost anything arranged by itself (e.g. – by one kind person). Most easily I understood compliments (for whatever reason…) – being said about my dress, shoes, bag – about anything and from completely unknown people.

ginta02The people in Atlanta are so nice that they will sacrifice themselves and explain the rules of baseball game to someone who doesn’t know anything about the game. Even more: they are ready to explain by attending a game and being not able to follow the results because spending the time and attention for explaining. The explaining can last some 20 minutes and after that you will understand what jersey-color the Braves are wearing, but nothing else…

I will repeat myself but – people in Atlanta are so friendly, polite and cute that they could easily apply for working at the GACC South (see point one).

  1. Atlanta for intermediates.

If you live on Peachtree Street, it doesn’t count. There are Peachtree Str. West, Peachtree Street North, Peachtree Road, Peachtree Way, Peachtree …………anything.

Atlanta is big (6 Mio. inhabitants), open, friendly and multi-cultural so that nobody could be impressed, confused or surprised about a newcomer like me (as long as I don’t rise the question: “Is it possible to pick mushrooms here?”).

From another side – the people in Atlanta are worried about me: middle in the night I receive nine messages about flash flood warning (while sleeping in the 55th floor…) and ask me: where did they get my mobile number?!

Next, look back to the point two and multiply the explanations of baseball rules by approximately 49, and you will be (probably) able to follow the game…

  1. USA for beginners (very beginners…).

USA is a service land. That’s it. If you give out 100 business cards during the first three days, (see point two, which means, I got to know too many kind people who wanted to change contact details with me) you always have a solution: a kind man in an FedEx office on the road, on Sunday afternoon will print you new ones within seven minutes for eight dollars.

If you ask somebody on the street “Excuse me, where did you buy your coffee mug”, be not surprised after two days to be addressed by the same person but in completely another place by the question “Did you find your coffee mug?”.

If you think you have learned a lot of new words, when being in the U.S. just for a week, and the words are like: GETSMRT2, TRAINMAN, PRTTYROK, BKROADS, its wrong. Because they aren’t words – they are car signs.

I was very touched seeing this one sign not only here, but also hearing it from a congressman in a graduation ceremony at Volkswagen.

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  1. “German dual vocational education in the USA and Latvia” for beginners.

This is the main reason I came to Atlanta – to learn from the experiences of the colleagues in Atlanta in their activities the field of dual vocational education.
We in Latvia are just starting in this area with real grassroots work in advising the local partners on the idea and practical issues of dual vocational education. We do so in the framework of the VETnet project financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research – which is coordinated for the 11 pilot countries worldwide by our umbrella organization, the DIHK in Berlin and hopefully will expand to more AHKs worldwide. We are all in different stages of development – but the topic is very important to all involved players. I learned that AHK in Atlanta is already working together with subsidiaries of German multinationals as well as with other interested companies on site and I had the chance to witness graduations at Volkswagen Academy and at Aiken training center, talk to many parties involved and see the potential outcome of dual vocational education support activities by an AHK. It gave me a lot of input for our work in Latvia in the coming years.

I also learned that anything is up to the people: if there is a person who stands behind an idea, is charismatic dreamer, visionary and has enough power, you can move anything to anywhere. Even an education system which differs from that one the target group knows till now. If this is possible in a country size like the U.S., then it will be possible also in Latvia. I experienced touching graduation ceremonies in Aiken, Chattanooga, informative phone conversations with colleagues in Washington D.C. and Chicago. I was allowed to shadow my mentor in Atlanta, Stefanie, in everything she has done in the field of vocational education. I appreciate Stefanie’s support a lot and would like to quote Mr. Robert Crenshaw: “If it is possible for somebody to have all the connections around the world, then Stefanie has for sure all the connections around the universe.”  Thank you that I was allowed to benefit from your connections!

  1. Latvia for beginners.

My country, Latvia, is bigger than Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands or Switzerland, but is three times smaller than Atlanta (2 vs 6 Mio. inhabitants).

Just a week ago I thought: Latvia is a small country where everyone knows everybody and where all the people are in a call distance. Just an example: the President of Latvia, the Prime Minister, the Head of the National Bank and almost all ministers have been the honored guests at many events organized by the AHK in Latvia.

After 10 days in the U.S. I know – small is the world, not only Latvia. Need a proof?

I came from Riga. Stefanie from Atlanta brings me to Chattanooga, where I meet Christian from New York who works for Audi in Mexico. From the moment of our meeting Christian knows two Latvians – me and a young man, Helmuts whom he met in Hamburg 2008. Need continuation? Helmuts is a friend of mine….

Additionally, Manuel, my colleague at the AHK in Atlanta, has been in Latvia several times. Mark Pierson, an honored member of the GACC South, has moderated a conference about Latvia 20 years ago, Robert from Aiken met Latvians a week ago (by the way, the members of German Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Latvia), and Dr. Eike Jordan, former President of the GACC South, knows Latvia because of our Ice-Hockey-Team. By the way, the temperature in Latvia varies from minus 25 degrees celsius (mostly) to plus 25 degrees (seldom). And that’s why we are strong in winter sports. (Link)

Riga, the capital of Latvia, is the biggest city around the Baltic see and this year, it is the European Capital of Culture. (Link)

The tradition of singing in Latvia (as well in other Baltic countries) is so strong that UNESCO included this phenomena in Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (Link)

And finally – Latvia is actually  a secret which you are more than welcome to discover. (Link)

  1. Conclusion.

There are none and can’t be any conclusions: It’s just a beginning of partnerships and friendship. After having visited many countries I smile always when experiencing a positive cultural shock.

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My time at the GACC South was an exceptional positive experience. My warmest regards to all of you! I will be glad to welcome you in Latvia and to assure hospitality of Latvians (and of the best places to pick up mushrooms).

With my warmest regards,
Ginta

*to organize – because I work too long for German companies to take it for granted – organizing anything. :-)

A Growing Member Community

Written by Nicole Prybula

This year’s Annual New Member Reception gathered the largest crowd yet, as almost 200 new and old friends of the German-American business community met at the GACC South Atlanta Office to welcome the new members who have joined our organization during the last year.01

Sponsored by Burr & Forman, LLP, the reception, held on July 22, 2014, united representatives across the entire Southern region, from Alabama, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia, to even a special visitor from the IHK in Berlin.

President & CEO, Martina Stellmaszek, introduced this year’s newest members and highlighted the very busy and exciting rest of the year ahead of us.

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Among this year’s highlights was the introduction of the GACC South’s new Referral Award. Whomever refers the most members by the end of this year will win a weekend stay at a luxury resort in the Southern United States. So, make sure that any member you refer mentions your name on the application form, and let the competition begin! For more information, view the flyer here.

Atlanta’s Vice-Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Thomas Wülfing, and the evening’s sponsor, Burr & Forman, LLP, also provided welcoming remarks before guests indulged in the buffet of delicious ‘Wurstsalat’, ‘Kartoffelsalat’ and ‘Brotzeit’ platters.
Along with the traditional German food & beer was the legendary Margarita Machine to spice up the night.

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A special thank you to MVI Proplant, Inc. and Star Publishing USA/ Star Consulting for providing the Margarita Machine. Also, thank you to Krombacher and Lammsbräu for sponsoring the beer.

Find pictures from the event here.

Introducing Michaela Schobert, Director, Consulting Services

Written by: Will Middlebrooks

On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the GACC South welcomed its new Director of Consulting Services, Michaela Schobert, to its Atlanta headquarters. Michaela comes to the GACC South from Haßfurt, Germany, where she was Head of the Export Department at Maintal Konfitüren GmbH. We sat down with her for a casual breakfast in order to get to know her a little better. Topics included her background, her hobbies and interests, and what she envisions for the GACC South and the German-American community.

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Background, Hobbies, and Interests
Michaela was born in a small village community called Eußenheim-Münster. Located about 45 minutes away from Würzburg in the “Fränkisches Weinland” (Franconian Wine region) of Bavaria, Münster is home to only a few hundred people, and is where she lived for her childhood and through her primary schooling. Her favorite activities include Zumba as well as other sports and activities like Yoga, Latin dance and traveling. She also has a love for music, and used to play both the flute and the organ. Whenever there is something that she wants to do, Michaela sets out and accomplishes it. Thus she can’t wait to travel and explore the U.S.  more, maybe even in a cross-country road trip. She also has her sights set on a cruise in the Bahamas!

A Passion for International Trade
Working with and getting to know different cultures is something that Michaela has always enjoyed. Living as an Au Pair in the U.S. when she was younger, she found early on that she liked it here. Her love for other cultures grew further when she spent a semester abroad in Taiwan as an exchange student. She believes that her passion for international trade is also based on the importance of being able to communicate with people from other cultures and work successfully with them.

Plans for the GACC South and the German-American Community at Large
In her new role at the GACC South, Michaela wants to bring her vision and understanding of the small-to-medium-sized enterprise as a customer, and utilize this knowledge to bring to them exactly what they are seeking in a market entry project. To the German-American business community as a whole, she brings the point of view of somebody who has grown up in and is knowledgeable of both cultures, and hopes to further strengthen the ties between the two cultures.

Finally, Michaela looks forward to taking on a new challenge, and is excited to be working with such a great and diverse team. Furthermore, she looks forward to helping small-to-medium-sized organizations realize that the U.S. market is attainable for them.

We are looking forward to an exciting new start with Michaela! Be sure to give her a warm welcome at this year’s New Member Reception on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Further event info can be found here.

FIFA World Cup – How North Carolina Cheered for Germany and the USA

Written by Katharina Wilke

On June 26, 2014 hundreds of Germans and Americans gathered at the GACC South events in Charlotte and Raleigh to mingle into Thursday’s nail-biting World Cup match between USA and Germany.

Enthusiastic soccer fans crowded at Tyler's Restaurant and Taproom in Raleigh

Enthusiastic soccer fans crowded at Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom in Raleigh

More than 200 people enjoyed the game with brats, sauerkraut and beer at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte. The OMB, a popular spot for watching the FIFA World Cup, installed an 8-foot high-definition projector screen in Charlotte’s oldest microbrewery.

Fans gathering at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte

Fans gathering at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte

170 miles further northeast, about 500 enthusiastic soccer fans crowded at Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom in Raleigh to watch the match. The sports bar on the edge of the state capitol complex attracted a mix of civil servants, faculty from N.C. State University and guests of the GACC South.

While soccer is the most popular sport for Germans, we were happy to see a lot of Americans who caught on to the World Cup fever.

In the end, everyone was happy. Even though the USA lost 1-0, they advanced to the next round, together with Germany.

See you in the finals!

Go, Germany! Go, USA!

Distribution strategy – 1/3 – Business development perspective

Originally posted on Medical Devices / Healthcare Market Updates:

CATHERINE TUTEN,

MANAGER US MARKET ENTRY SERVICES AT GERMAN AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE SOUTHERN US (GACC SOUTH)

Catherine Tuten

Catherine, can you tell us more about your activities? 

I work for the GACC of the Southern US where I manage the US market entry services team.  We are the first point of contact for German companies entering or expanding in the US. The GACC is the official representative of German industry and trade.

Based on your experience, tell us the different models for a foreign company to sell its products in the US? 

-Export from your home country to the US directly to final consumers (B or C) or through distributors/partners

-US sales / manufacturing subsidiary, or

-Joint venture with a local company.

Based on the company’s products, market and opportunities, one or several distributors or local partners can be selected.

If a distributor has a great coverage of the…

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Conference Takeaways: Globalism in Today’s Workforce

5 things to know about the global workforce of tomorrow:

1. Soft skills are an important aspect of educating a skilled workforce. In Georgia, programs like GeorgiaBEST (Business Ethics Student Training) prepare high-school seniors for the workforce. 

2. For companies, investing in economic and workforce development is key to becoming world-class competitors. This mindset is shared by successful corporations around the world.

3. It is all about education, certification and globalization. These connections, provided through programs and incentives, are vital to prepare current employees and trainees for advanced education, skill certification, training and employment.

4. More programs and incentives that link secondary and post-secondary education with industries can provide opportunities for both graduates and companies.

5. The German vocational training model that is implemented by some German-American companies in the U.S., and especially in the South, has generated positive impulses throughout the nation.

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These are some of the takeaways from the ‘Globalism in Today’s Workforce’, a conference organized by Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services, which took place on May 29 at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta. More than 60 attendees gathered to address the chances and challenges pertinent to today’s global workforce. The symposium stressed the importance of the topic; and emphasis was placed on national and regional development issues that encompass education, certification and globalization of today’s labor market.

Speakers with a wide range of expertise in finance, government, intelligence, education, international business and education were present. GACC South Vice President Stefanie Jehlitschka was among the speakers on ‘Trends in the Global Marketplace”.

More information about the Globalism in Today’s Workforce conference.