In my ongoing efforts to be more than an office hermit, I attended an ALPFA event on the 9th that turned out to be absolutely fascinating. The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) is an organization dedicated to empowering Latino Professionals. I first heard about it through their event planner Sofia Bork. When I asked her why she took on this role in addition to her demanding work at Verizon, she had an immediate response. “The most enjoyable aspect of my role as Director of Events is hosting events that bring community leaders and the general public together. This facilitates an environment of collaboration and aids in growing and developing Latino professionals, which is ultimately the mission of ALPFA.” I’m sold!
The ALPFA event at GSU explored the topic “Atlanta: A Global Business City.” The evening featured a star-studded panel of career diplomats and international business experts:
- Vanessa Ibarra, Deputy Director of the City of Atlanta
- Consul General Miguel Aleman of Peru
- Consul General Javier Diaz de Leon of Mexico
- Consul Claudia Maria Valenzuela Diaz of El Salvador
- Consul Lisa Stockley of Canada
- Minna LeVine, the CEO of The Chamber of Eco Commerce
So, why is Atlanta a global city? The panel agreed that the primary reason is the connectivity. Hartsfield is the world’s most-traveled and most efficient airport. MARTA’s expansions are attracting corporations (both foreign and domestic) who want their employees to have easy access to their workplace. We have extensive railways and highways. Due to this connectivity, we are also a supply chain hub. Our machinery and logistical resources are a huge asset to international trade partners, especially China and Mexico.
Atlanta’s diverse demographic makeup is also attractive to international corporations. They see opportunities with the many potential customer types (both B2B and B2C). Atlanta also has a high concentration of potential employees. We have a skillful, talented workforce, as well as many students in higher education. Additionally, Atlanta has a strong tech ecosystems (in cyber security, IT, and financial services). The metro area also has a relatively low cost of living and cost of doing business.
Individual consuls made the case for Atlanta further establishing relationships with them. For example:
- Both Mexico and Canada are responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs in Atlanta.
- El Salvador’s currency is the dollar, they have low taxes and many tax incentives, a friendly legal framework, and access to the Pacific coast.
- As a country in the Southern Hemisphere, Peru can offer summer produce during Atlanta’s winter. In fact, one of their cities has a partnership with Vidalia, GA.
So what can Atlanta do to continue this global growth? The panelists had several suggestions:
- Establish sister cities and accept Fulbright scholars
- Reject protectionism. Stockley confirmed that so far they had a strong relationship with the new administration, but leaving NAFTA would be hugely problematic.
- Encourage cultural diversity
- Invest in female business leaders
I look forward to other ALPFA events like this. To learn more and sign up for their events, check out ALPFA Atlanta’s Eventbrite page.