Thursday, February 7, 2008

Investment, trade opportunities the focus of business mission from DeKalb County, Ga.

As Trinidad and Tobago prepares to welcome a group of business and government leaders from DeKalb County, Georgia beginning Sunday, it has an active group of T&T diaspora in that Atlanta-area county and an aggressive investment promotion program in T & T to thank.
The delegation, assembled by the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Georgia (TNTGA) with participation of the Consulate General of T&T in Miami, will meet with local public and private sector leaders to discuss business and trade opportunities.

“As we take the message of opportunity in Trinidad and Tobago to the world, we know that our best messengers are our own people living elsewhere”, said Khalid Hassanali, president of Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company, Ltd. (eTecK)., the implementing agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry responsible for promoting investments and the diversification of the country’s non-energy sector and export base. “We have made great progress as a nation to ready ourselves for investment and stronger ties to other parts of the world. It is time to reap the benefits for our economy and our citizens. Attracting foreign investment while working hand in hand with TT diaspora is a high priority.”

Government and business leaders in Trinidad and Tobago talk most often about a short list of industries where foreign direct investment is ready to succeed, including: Information Communications Technology; Downstream Energy Food & Beverage; Music and Entertainment; Film; Yachting; Merchant Marine; Printing and Packaging; and Fish & Fish Processing.. Last year, e TecK launched an international branding campaign designed to tell the world “We are Next.” See more at

In November 2003, a group of T&T diaspora living in Georgia formed TNTGA. As part of its strategic plan, TNTGA identified the promotion of Trinidad and Tobago in Georgia, with focus on trade and investment opportunities, as a key success factor. In 2004 the then-Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago in Miami ― the Hon. Dr. Harold H. Robertson ― visited metro Atlanta and extended an invitation to Vernon Jones, DeKalb County’s chief elected official, to come to T&T with a trade mission from the county to the islands. In December 2007, Hassanali made a presentation in Atlanta about business opportunities in T&T to a group of business and government leaders, including members of the forthcoming delegation.

"We are delighted to see our strategic vision and efforts finally coming together in this trade and investment mission,” explained Hazel Saigo Valentine, interim public relations officer of TNTGA. “We hope this will be the first of many such business and social exchanges and look forward to definite benefits accruing for both DeKalb County and Trinidad and Tobago from this initial visit".

eTeck, in collaboration with TNTGA has organized the itinerary for the business delegation, an educational overview about T&T’s readiness for non-energy inward investments and meetings with representatives of the Tobago House of Assembly, University of the West Indies, the T&T Manufacturers Association, T&T Chamber of Commerce, AMCHAM, the US Embassy, and other business and government organizations. Members of the delegation visiting T&T next week include:

The Hon. Connie Stokes, commissioner, and Michelle Jordan-Menifee, senior project manager, DeKalb Office of Economic Development, DeKalb County Government.

Barry Sample and Virgil Hodges of Instructional Systems Inc., an instructional educational software company.

Bill Hodges of Hodges, Harbin, Newberry & Tribble, Inc., one of the premier authorities on landfills, rock quarries and environmental matters in the Southern United States.

Harold Reheis, senior vice president, Joe Tanner and Associates, a government affairs and lobbying firm. Reheis has responsibility for promulgating state policy for waste management, watershed protection, landfill development oversight and air quality management.

Bob Gnuse and David Goershel, MACTEC, which provides engineering, environmental, and construction consulting services to public and private clients worldwide.

Peter Thomas, Jordan Jones & Goulding, an engineering, management and planning services firm.

Kirk Francois, deputy consul general, T&T in Miami.

Ruthven V. Lequay, founder of DevTech Consulting, LLC which provides financial and management consulting services to business, nonprofit organizations and individuals in the United States and Caribbean, and founding member of TNTGA.

Ernie Jones, coordinator, DeKalb County/T&T Trade and Investment mission, and founding member of TNTGA.

eTeck and TNTGA are pleased to link interests in Trinidad and Tobago with those in Georgia and to facilitate business engagements of mutual benefit.

In 2006, DeKalb County population was estimated to be 723,602, with more than 7,000 Trinbagonians among those residents. DeKalb is generally considered among the more highly concentrated areas for T&T diaspora, after New York and South Florida. It is home to Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Philips Consumer Electronics and Stone Mountain Park, and has a culturally diverse population speaking more than 64 languages. For more information about DeKalb County’s economic development efforts, visit For more information about TNTGA, visit

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