On July 11, State Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City, for the second year, brought together a group of local, state and international representatives in an effort to build and strengthen the state’s global economic partnerships during the Georgia International Trade and Commerce Summit.
“The international community is majorly important to the success of Georgia’s economic wheel. Our focus with the (summit) is to enhance relationships with other countries and keep that wheel turning,” Gilliard said during a press event at Garden City City Hall.
“Being the hub with the Georgia Port, Gulfstream and others, we want to bring more businesses to other municipalities. We feel that with Georgia’s constant economic growth, it’s important that we build those relationships and spread the word.”
The summit included representatives from several Chatham County municipalities, as well as international representatives from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Netherlands and Canada. Several other Georgia lawmakers from across the state were also in attendance.
During the three-day summit, which kicked off on Wednesday night with a private reception, the group will tour Gulfstream Aerospace, the Georgia Ports Authority, the Brunswick Port terminal and visit Thunderbolt, Tybee Island and the World Trade Center Savannah.
The group held a panel discussion Thursday centered on foreign trade in Georgia. Another discussion in Thunderbolt concerning economic development and investment followed.
“As we look at the growth of the ports and all of the wealth that comes, we know that there’s more in goods and services, so what goods and services do those other countries represent and what are we contributing to each other’s economy?” Gilliard said.
“That’s what we’re focusing on today.”
Several of the panelists said the key to growing trade and the economy is first growing relationships with local and state leaders.
State Rep. Dewayne Hill, R-Ringgold, said working with leaders who share the same mindset and work to understand the needs of their international partners will benefit both groups.
“When we work together, we understand what they need and they understand what we’re looking for,” Hill said.
“The goal is to improve the economy not only in the United States, but for our international partners, as well, so that we’re both successful in the goals that we have before us.”