Selon l’Atlanta Business Chronicle, les Industriels Allemands Plebiscitent le Sud-Est des Etats-Unis

Germany Inc. comes to Georgia – Atlanta Business Chronicle 5/18/15, 2:58 PM Page 1 of 4
From the Atlanta Business Chronicle
Germany Inc. comes to Georgia
Region’s strengths are drawing a growing base of German companies,

The Germans are peachy on the Peach State.
In 1978, the German American Chamber of Commerce picked Atlanta for the site of its
Southern United States outpost. Back then, there were about 30 German companies with
operations in the Peach State. Today, there are nearly 500 German businesses, who collectively
employ more than 22,000 Georgians.
The German march continues with Mercedes-Benz’s announcement in January that it will
relocate its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta from northern New Jersey. Weber Metal, the aerospace
unit of Meinzhengarten, Germany-based Otto Fuchs is eyeing the state for a more than $500
million industrial complex that would employ about 700, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported in
Porsche Cars North America opened its new headquarters in Atlanta May 7, nearly 70 years to
the day since World War II ended with German troops laying down their arms on Victory in Europe
Day (May 8, 1945).
Georgia is among the top destinations for German companies, according to the German American
Chamber for the Southern United States. The division represents the 11 Southern United States,
from Texas to North Carolina.
Indeed. Germany ranked No. 1 in the number of projects and jobs created so far in fiscal 2015,
according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Georgia imports more
Germany Inc. comes to Georgia – Atlanta Business Chronicle 5/18/15, 2:58 PM Page 2 of 4
goods from Germany ($17.2 billion in 2014) than any country except China, according to the U.S.
Census Bureau. Germany bought $1.3 billion in Georgia products last year, ranking eight among
countries the state trades with.
“There’s two places in the world companies want to be — China and North America,” said Chris
Carr, Georgia’s economic development commissioner. “If you’re going to be in North America,
generally you want to be in the U.S.; and if you want to be in the U.S., you generally want to be in
the Southeast.”
Georgia attracts German companies for the same reasons it attracts the Japanese and Koreans —
direct flights around the world from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; two
seaports, a robust Interstate network, low cost of doing business, aggressive tax incentives and a
skilled workforce.
The Peach State is typically on the short list for German companies looking for an East Coast
location, said Martina Stellmaszek, president and CEO of the German American Chamber of
Commerce of the Southern U.S.
Georgia attracts a diverse set of German companies including professional services, industrial
equipment makers and aerospace companies, Stellmaszek said.
German industry’s roots in Georgia date back to the early 1900s. The German government opened
a consulate in Atlanta in 1904, primarily for the promotion and sale of German high quality
machinery and equipment for the textile industry which had begun to move from the Northeast to
the South.
Georgia is especially attractive to German manufacturers of large sophisticated machinery, as well
automakers and suppliers, said S.A. de Kock, managing partner at Rödl Langford de Kock LLP,
a CPA firm that focuses on overseas companies. Both sectors are drawn to the state because of the
region’s robust sea, air and road networks.
Since June 2013, a third of all German companies the Georgia Department of Economic
Development has helped recruit, have been auto suppliers, de Kock said.
“Atlanta is the Stuttgart of the United States for the German auto industry,” he said. “Atlanta is the
gateway to the Southeast” which is home to BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen plants.
Interest in Georgia and the Southeast has been “extraordinarily high” in the past two years, de
Kock said. The German business base is also heavily concentrated among small and mid-sized
exporters — more than 50 percent of the GDP of Germany is exported.
In Georgia, German companies are largely concentrated around Atlanta with smaller pockets
around Savannah, Macon and Columbus.
German businesses are drawn to the United States, a resurgent customer market as demand from
Europe and even China slows.
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“German companies have realized that if they want to serve the American customer they have to
have a presence here,” de Kock said. “Georgia, along with Alabama, the Carolinas and Tennessee,
is typically on the shortlist of relocation sites.”
In 1998, plastics manufacturer Kraiburg TPE opened a two-employee sales office in Atlanta soon
after the Waldkraiburg, Germany-based company first began selling into the United States market.
Since then the 71-year-old Kraiburg has expanded in Georgia with a manufacturing plant in the
Atlanta area that employs about 50 and makes elastic thermoplastic elastomers — a soft plastic
material used in seals, gaskets and handles. Kraiburg is readying for further expansion with plans
to open a 65,000-square-foot plant in Buford, Ga.
When Kraiburg TPE decided to open a U.S. office, one of the first considerations was to be located
in the East Coast because of the time difference with Europe, Managing Director Jeff Frankish
“Going to Chicago or the West Coast would make it harder to conduct day-to-day operations,”
Frankish said.
The Southeast was attractive because of its lower-cost labor, skilled talent and transportation
infrastructure. It also helped that the German automotive industry — a major end-use market —
was moving production to the Southeast.
“The logistics infrastructure in Georgia is probably among the best in the country,” Frankish said.
“That was a factor in getting raw material in so we could produce our product, and ship finished
goods out to our customers throughout the United States and even into Mexico and South
In Atlanta, Kraiburg also found a rich ecosystem of accountants and attorneys who had experience
working with German companies.
Georgia’s lure for Germany Inc. is the state’s growing cluster of German businesses.
Atlanta’s existing base of German companies has a “snowball effect,” Frankish said.
The big German automakers have lured a constellation of German subsystem manufacturers and
suppliers to the Southeast. When Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW set up assembly plants in the
Southeast, they bring with them Tier 1 suppliers, who in turn attract suppliers lower down the food
“The (suppliers) need to locate their component manufacturing facility fairly close to the assembly
plant from a cost- effectiveness standpoint,” Frankish said. He cites Röchling Automotive,
Henniges, Scherer & Trier and Montaplast as examples of German suppliers who hopped the
pond with the OEM automakers.
Having Porsche, Mercedes and other German companies in the state takes away some of the fear
and uncertainty that German companies grapple with when considering Georgia for an expansion,
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Commissioner Carr said.
“It says, ‘Georgia is doing something right and we can make it work as well,’” Carr said. “It shows
somebody has been there and done it, and proven to be successful.”
Suppliers who do business with multiple automakers are drawn to Georgia because it is considered
“neutral ground,” as it does not have a major German auto plant, the German American Chamber’s
Stellmaszek said. “If you’re in South Carolina then you’re linked to BMW; if you’re in in Alabama,
you’re linked to Mercedes; and if you’re in Tennessee, you’re linked with Volkswagen,” she said.
Urvaksh Karkaria covers Technology. Staff Writer- Atlanta Business Chronicle