From the desk of the Consul General - April 2018 [fr]
Dear French and American friends,
The month of March is traditionally a busy one here in the Southeast: Besides yearly events such as the annual Francophonie Festival and the international Goût de France / Good France dinner, an abundance of happenings set a busy tempo.
In mid-March I took a two-day trip to Tennessee with the Atlanta chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce to meet up with business leaders in Nashville and Chattanooga. Honorary Nashville Consul Amélie de Gaulle joined us at Schneider Electric, to meet with multiple French individuals on the company’s management team. Thank you to Alban Cambournac for his warm welcome and for showcasing the global company, which has tripled its revenue since 2003 and predicts a significant margin of growth over the next five years.
Tennessee is also the home state of Nissan’s U.S. presence, which I will remind readers is now, of course, Renault-Nissan. Its Smyrna plant is the largest automotive production unit on the entire North American continent (which includes Mexico), and is notable for its scale and diversity. The tonnage of steel required each morning to produce the variety of vehicles alone constitutes an excellent starting point for a discussion on imports in the sector...
Next we heard from Bruno Durant, founder of Silver Bain Farm LLC, who built a company from the ground up and is now the largest U.S. producer of worms for fishing and potting soil. He also follows the organic standards for which the French are so fond. His business is an example of the sort of French entrepreneurship that we can be proud to have cultivated among our anglophone parters, and exemplifies the companies that can blossom in a favorable environment such as the U.S. Southeast. Emmanuel Becquet, who heads the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s Chattanooga chapter, helped make our visit a pleasant one. Thank you Emmanuel!
Apart from my trip to Tennessee, I traveled further south this month to Auburn University in Alabama, at the invitation of the president as well as senior counsel to the president Anne Gramberg. My presentation, which touched on France today, including all of its peculiarities and dynamism, gave me the opportunity to talk with students and researchers, and to encouraged them to take a deeper look at France. The enriching discussion was a reminder that we must teach new generations about the similarities and also the cultural and political difference between France and the United States, the two oldest allies in the Western world.
I don’t want to forget to mention the conference put on in Atlanta by Business France and SYMOP which was titled "Innovation & Technologies in the Paper Industry." The paper industry and many of its affiliates have a strong presence here in the Southeast United Staes. Georgia, for example, leads all other U.S. states in paper and cardboard exports. The U.S. Southeast is an excellent counterpart for the French paper industry, which is recognized worldwide for its capacity and innovation.
Finally, a big thank you to our European diplomatic colleagues who came to Atlanta all the way from Brussels to shed light on and explain, once again, the European Union. This wonderful initiative put on by COTRA (the Working Party on Transatlantic Relations), was very much appreciated. Meetings which included CNN management, such as lunch debate organized by the World Affairs Council, gave us the chance to address such complex issues as free trade, tariff barriers, migration issues, U.S. domestic policy and the European Union’s foreign policy vis-a-vis Iran. Bravo to Belgian Consul General William De Baets for all his work organizing this visit.
See you soon,
Louis de Corail
Consul General of France