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International economic reps from 11 countries tour Hall businesses, colleges
Louise Dufour-Zavala, executive director of the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network, guides a tour Thursday through the Georgia Poultry Lab in Gainesville. International economic representatives from 11 world markets visited Hall County Thursday. - photo by Erin O. Smith

International economic representatives from 11 countries toured Hall County on Thursday to help them better be able to go back to their home countries and sell Hall as a place to do business and visit for vacation.

They toured the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network and Kubota’s new facility at the Gateway Industrial Centre, ate lunch at Jaemor Farms and visited Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus as part of the state Department of Economic Development tour. They finished the day with a reception at the Brenau University Downtown Center.

German representative Antje Abshoff said she was impressed with plans for the new Lanier Tech campus, set to open in January 2019. She said Lanier Tech has an apprenticeship model with IMS Gear, a German company that operates in Hall County.

The Department of Economic Development takes its international economic representatives from China, South Korea, Japan, Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Canada to a different part of the state for a similar economic tour each year. Northeast Georgia was the spotlight area this year.

“Not all growth happens in Atlanta,” said Bert Brantley, chief operating officer for the Department of Economic Development.

Japanese representative Yumiko Nakazono marveled at how Japanese company Kubota keeps expanding its footprint in Hall County.

Nakazono was also appreciated the plans for the new Lanier Tech campus, noting it will help train not only young workers but also older workers looking to add a skill.

“That will help companies coming here,” Nakazono said.

Nakazono pointed to Hall County’s quality of life, family-oriented nature and proximity to Atlanta and the Atlanta airport as reasons international companies like doing business here.

Brantley said the presence of Lanier Tech, Brenau, UNG and Truett-McConnell in the region is a major selling point for companies such as Kubota and ZF Wind Power.

“You really can’t even measure how important they are because when companies come here they know they’re going to have an educated workforce to hire for their employees,” Brantley said. “It is the No. 1 thing they ask for. … That’s why they’ve been so successful in getting international companies.”