Macon event provides networking opportunity with foreign dignitaries

The 9th annual Georgia European Union Summit on Thursday will feature a leader from the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Claes Hammar, minister of foreign trade, will be the keynote speaker for the dinner event to be held at the Marriott City Center hotel on Coliseum Drive, according to a news release.

The opening speaker will be Macon native Jonathan Addleton, who served at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels. He recently was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia.

The summit brings together consuls general, honorary consuls and trade commissioners from as many as 20 nations. The dinner provides an opportunity for Georgia business leaders to build relationships with international dignitaries that promote commercial relations and investment between Georgia and their respective nations, the release states.

Also, the Georgia Distinguished Exporter Award will be presented during the annual event.

“The Europeans have over $20 billion invested in the state of Georgia,” said attorney Christopher Smith, who founded the EU summit in 2001. “Their companies employ over 130,000 Georgians. ... There are 155 Swedish companies in Georgia, and Georgia exports to Sweden through the first half of 2009 total $70 million. ... (Including Japanese companies, which have a large presence in Georgia), “you are looking at an unbelievable economic footprint.”

Countries that have confirmed they are sending diplomats, Smith said, are the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, Mexico, Albania, Greece and Liechtenstein.

The dinner begins with cocktails at 5:30 p.m., and it includes a silent auction.

The EU dinner is coordinated by the Cherry Blossom Festival staff, which is selling individual tickets for $150 or a table for 10 for $1,000. Reservations must be made by 5 p.m. today by calling Dee Ann Geeslin at 751-7414.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.