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Governor Perdue Announces Appointment of Executive Director for Gateway to the Americas / Hemisphere, Inc. Campaign

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of José Ignacio González as Executive Director of Hemisphere, Inc. Governor Perdue is Chairman of Hemisphere, Inc., which is the non-profit corporation leading the Atlanta, Georgia: Gateway to the Americas initiative. Hemisphere, Inc. is charged with making Atlanta and Georgia the premier gateway between the countries of the Americas and with winning the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas for Atlanta.

"José Ignacio's depth of experience and track record of success in building relationships and trade between the countries of the Americas will be invaluable as he leads this initiative," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "He has a unique understanding of the business, infrastructure and cultural assets that make Georgia the perfect gateway between the countries of the Americas. We have tremendous momentum behind the Gateway initiative, and José Ignacio will carry us forward without missing a beat."

González, who is currently president of Perishables Group International at Hartsfield Airport, will report to the private sector vice-chair of Hemisphere, Inc., Thomas F. Chapman, Chairman and CEO of Equifax. González, a native Colombian, will be responsible for managing all aspects of Atlanta, Georgia's campaign, including leveraging relationships with decision makers in Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and South America as well as in Washington, DC, and with the continuing development and execution of the long-term marketing strategy. González will work out of the Gateway to the Americas office provided by Equifax and will have a small support staff.

"This effort needs a visionary leader who gets things done; someone who knows how to build a successful business and one who can lead a large and diverse team to accomplish great goals. That's exactly what we have in José Ignacio González," said Chapman.

González has been active in the campaign since its inception two years ago. He was instrumental in organizing trade missions to Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. González was also instrumental in securing the ALACAT conference in Atlanta last fall. This marked the first time the leading cargo event, run by The Federation of Caribbean and Latin American Cargo Agents, was held in North America.

Mayor Shirley Franklin, who serves on the board of directors for the Gateway initiative said, "José Ignacio has been involved in this effort as a private sector partner since its inception. He impressed us with his business-like approach and his sensitivity to the wide variety of cultures and interests represented in the Americas. I think he is an excellent choice to lead Hemisphere, Inc."

New Executive Director José Ignacio González said, "The opportunity to lead the Gateway to the Americas initiative is a great honor. I look forward to leveraging our unique position in the hemisphere and to showing the Americas' trade leaders the strategic assets that make Atlanta the logical choice as the headquarters for the FTAA."

A brief biography is provided below.

José Ignacio González was the founding partner of Perishables Group International JV, LLC and PanAmerican Logistics, LLC. Prior to founding the companies in 1997, Mr. González was founding Chief Executive Officer of Arcoffee Corporation, an importer/wholesaler of premium coffee, and was appointed agent with ACES Airlines, the second largest Colombian airline owned by the Colombian Federation of Coffee Growers and the Colombian ocean freight line, Grancolombiana. Mr. González grew up in Colombia and came to the U.S. to study at Purdue University where he earned his undergraduate degree. He later earned an MBA from Mercer University. Mr. González has served on the board of directors for numerous non-profit, professional and civic organizations, and he is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Hemisphere, Inc. / Atlanta, Georgia - Gateway to the Americas is a nonprofit enterprise developed to spearhead Georgia's efforts to locate the FTAA Secretariat permanently in Atlanta. The enterprise grew out of a strategic statewide initiative led by the Governor; Mayor Shirley Franklin; the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism; the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. The initiative's primary goals are locating the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Atlanta; encouraging trade and investment with the other countries of the hemisphere; increasing tourism and strengthening the Georgia and Atlanta brands.

Hemisphere, Inc. is governed by a 24-member board, chaired by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue with Thomas F. Chapman, Chairman and CEO of Equifax serving as the vice-chair. In addition, an advisory council consisting of representatives from Georgia companies and public entities helps to manage the strategic direction of the organization.