Situated along the busy Atlantic seaboard, Georgia boasts unparalleled access to a business-friendly tax structure and atmosphere, rapidly expanding major seaports, and the world’s busiest airport: Hartford-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In fact, twice in the last decade, Hartford-Jackson was honored as the Air Cargo Airport of the Year, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Combine these features with a bustling Foreign-Trade Zone and a skilled, educated workforce and Georgia adds up to one of the best states in the country to major in and conduct international business.
The vibrant city of Atlanta is considered to be a global “alpha city” by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Atlanta hosts the headquarters of several Fortune 500 Companies, including The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, and global shipping giant, UPS. This city is also home to over 60 foreign consulates, giving businesses direct access to foreign governments interested in global trade in both goods and services.
Atlanta is the location of Foreign-Trade Zone #26, which includes Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, covering many industrial sites and manufacturing concerns throughout Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. This Foreign-Trade Zone is a specially designated area that keeps local businesses globally competitive through reduced duties and by facilitating rapid movement of goods to and from ports.
While Hartsfield-Jackson deals with over 16 major air cargo carriers, the Georgia Port Authority operates two busy ports with modern terminals designed to meet the needs of international business. Both the Port of Savannah and the Port of Brunswick specialize in handling container, controlled-temperature cargo, roll-on/roll-off cargo, and agri-bulk shipping. Global Georgia, Georgia’s international business news source, reports that deep water ports along the east coast are scrambling to ready facilities for the increased traffic anticipated after completion of the Panama Canal expansion in 2014. The Port of Savannah is primed to meet this need by deepening its waterway approach to accommodate the super-sized ships that will soon traverse the Canal.
Georgia’s International Trade Partners
This easy access to major shipping infrastructure has made Georgia an important exporting state. Georgia exported merchandise worth $34.7 billion in 2011, making it the 12th largest export state in the United States, according to the Department of Economic Development. Canada is Georgia’s largest trade partner, receiving $3.2 billion in merchandise from the state in 2011 according to the International Trade Administration. Canada is followed by China with $3.2 billion, Mexico with $2 billion and Singapore with $1.5 billion in imports from Georgia.
Important Georgia exporting companies include American BOA, a manufacturer of metal bellows, metal expansion joints and metal hoses used in the manufacturing and automotive industries. With its American headquarters in Cumming, Georgia, BOA also has manufacturing facilities in Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil.
Caterpillar Marine Power Systems operates a 421,000 square foot plant in Griffin, Georgia where is produces engines for all Caterpillar engine segments.
One of the largest employers in the state is Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, employing 8,200 workers and corporate professionals in Marietta Georgia. The Marietta plant builds large aircraft, including the large transport aircraft, the C-130 and contributes millions of dollars in payroll and taxes to the local economy.
Booming exporters such as these require the services of many kinds of international business professionals, including international accountants familiar with IFRS, global managers, international marketing managers and market research analysts, among others.
International Business Jobs in Georgia
Georgia’s vibrant economy has made it an attractive location for foreign investment. In 2009, the latest year statistics were kept, foreign-controlled companies employed 170,600 Georgia workers, according to the International Trade Administration.
Among the major multinational companies in Georgia is AEGON Financial Services of the Netherlands, which operates offices in both Atlanta and Duluth. AEGON is one of the world’s largest pension and insurance groups. Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, it employs over 27,500 workers worldwide.
Another major multinational employer in Georgia is Kia Motors of Korea. According to the company website, Kia just celebrated the opening of a $1 billion state-of-the-art automobile manufacturing plant in West Point. This 2.2 million square foot plant employs over 1,200 Georgia workers and should support the creation an additional 7,500 regional jobs from vendors and suppliers.
Multinational corporations such as these require expert international trade specialists, cultural advisors and import compliance specialists, among others, to navigate the complex world of global commerce.
Making International Business Contacts in Georgia
Georgia offers a number of resources for businesses seeking international business opportunities: