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Hemisphere, Inc. Enters Phase II of Bid for FTAA Secretariat

Wednesday, October 27, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Focus on Building Alliances and Adding Value to the Hemisphere

ATLANTA, GA – Governor Sonny Perdue today announced that Hemisphere, Inc., a nonprofit enterprise comprised of public and private sector representatives, has entered the second phase of its efforts to bring the Secretariat headquarters of the Free Trade Area of the Americas to Atlanta. The second phase involves both structural and physical realignments.

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Commissioner Craig Lesser and Equifax Chairman and CEO Tom Chapman will serve as co-vice chairs of the effort to drive the city’s candidacy for the headquarters. Additionally, Hemisphere, Inc. has joined GDEcD at Midtown’s Technology Square complex to help broaden Georgia’s image as an important player in hemispheric trade. Jose Ignacio Gonzalez continues in his role as Executive Director of Hemisphere, Inc. and will report directly to Craig Lesser.

“This effort is now about strengthening Atlanta and Georgia’s candidacy, and it is about broadening our state’s worldwide position as a leader in business and global affairs,” said Governor Perdue, chairman of Hemisphere, Inc. “With the creation of this bold new leadership team, we will build business relationships that extend well beyond the FTAA decision.”

Hemisphere, Inc. submitted the city’s official bid for the Secretariat in March 2004. Since then, Governor Perdue and Tom Chapman have led the efforts to elevate the city’s profile among business and government leaders throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“Atlanta’s geographic location is at the center of business in the Americas,” said Chapman. “We are home to the titans of international business, world-class transportation, and a vibrant international community.”

“Tom has been a great champion for the FTAA effort in the private sector and has been a guiding light for the effort overall,” said Lesser. “I share his commitment to leverage Georgia’s economic and strategic assets to build ties throughout the hemisphere.”

In phase one of the organization’s efforts, Governor Perdue presented Atlanta’s bid to government leaders throughout the Americas. Atlanta also hosted opinion leaders, senior government officials, and business leaders from North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America at the Business of the Americas Conference; and academics from leading university business schools in Latin America and Spain at the annual SUMAQ conference.

In the coming months, Hemisphere, Inc. representatives will continue to conduct business missions to countries within the hemisphere to tout the city’s assets and personally deliver bid packages to government leaders. Atlanta and the Organization of American States (OAS) will co-host a meeting bringing together Caribbean nations to strengthen cooperation and advance common interests.

Plans to locate the Secretariat in Atlanta began more than two years ago when the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Georgia’s business leaders came together to define a strategy for attracting the Secretariat to Atlanta.

The FTAA comprises 34 countries, representing approximately 800 million consumers and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of in excess of U.S. $14 trillion. The headquarters of this organization will be charged with administering the world’s largest trading bloc and ensuring efficient flow of business between the member countries.