In November 2017, Bremen played host to a delegation from Savannah, USA. The delegates visited a number of companies and held a ‘meet & greet’ event at the Industrie Club to introduce their business location on the coast of Georgia. In this interview, Craig Lesser (Savannah World Trade Center), Hugh ‘Trip’ Tollison (Savannah Economic Development Authority, or SEDA) and Andreas Gerber (Bremeninvest) explain why these contacts are so important to them, and which opportunities they see for the future.
What does this region on the coast of Georgia offer that would interest international partners?
Tollison: Savannah has a population of just under 400,000 and is one of the major ports of the eastern USA. Almost 20 per cent of container transshipments on the east coast are conducted via Savannah. The region also benefits from a sound infrastructure. Atlanta airport is only an hour’s flight away, and the port offers good access to the markets, especially for logistics companies and manufacturing. A dynamic cluster of suppliers is centred on our local aircraft manufacturer, Gulfstream. Ports, logistics, aviation – those are the areas where we score highly.
Those are also Bremen’s strengths. Sheer coincidence?
Lesser: No, we were deliberately looking for such similarities. About five years ago, we completely re-focused our global strategy in order to boost our regional economy through foreign trade and collaborations. We conducted very thorough research in our quest for business partners, narrowing down a field of 100 countries to a shortlist of five, with Germany right at the top. Then we embarked on more in-depth analysis and gathered more detailed information. Bremen and two other locations turned out to be the most attractive, so in 2013 we got on a plane to visit all of them, and to meet the key players. Ultimately, we firmly believe that economic relations and success are always built on personal contacts.