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Irish Ambassador advocates links

Atlanta Business Chronicle - February 9, 2010 - by Julie Bryant Fisher, Managing Editor


Braving the blizzard in Washington, D.C., only to be met with more cold, wet weather in Georgia, the Irish Ambassador to the United States Michael Collins spoke before Atlanta's Irish Chamber of Commerce Feb. 9, praising the growing links between companies in the U.S. and Ireland.

Direct investment by U.S. companies in Ireland employs some 95,000, the Ambassador said in his speech. Combined investment in the two countries is some $90 billion and, in recent years, Ireland has been among the top ten investors in the U.S. The U.S. is also Ireland's second largest trading partner.

"Georgia companies like Coca-Cola, Georgia Pacific and UPS use Ireland as a European base for their business... In return, Irish companies employ some 82,000 Americans, including companies like Oldcastle, Elan and Datalex here in Georgia," he said.

Ireland's chief investment agency is hoping to build on the growing business ties between Georgia and Ireland, he said.

"One great example of that is the Georgia Tech Research Institute Ireland, established in....2006," he said. "This supports industry-focused research for groups on both sides of the Atlantic in areas like digital media, biotechnology and energy."

Ambassador Collins also talked about growing ties between Ireland and Atlanta, including the pending opening of an Irish Consulate here.

Chamber president Kevin Conboy, a partner with law firm Paul Hastings, greeted the cozy crowd gathered at RiRa Irish Pub in Midtown. Crowd notables included British Consul General in Atlanta Annabelle Malins and Atlanta Lawyer Lawrence Ashe, who is helping head up Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's transition team; along with a host of local business executives.

The Irish Chamber and Atlanta fans of the wearing of the green are gearing up for this year's St. Patrick's Parade and Festival 2010, scheduled for Mar. 13. Coach Vince Dooley will be the grand marshal of the parade this year. Leading up to the popular festival is the St. Pat's Emerald Evening "Lord of the Dance" fundraiser, slated for Mar. 10 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

"It's going to be fantastic," said Paul Breslin of Panther Hospitality, who is on the host committee for the Emerald Evening event.