GACC Midwest ChamberBrief: April 2014 Issue

Dear Members and Friends,

Less than three weeks until our main signature event of the year! We have receieved numerous Award applications, the winners will be publicly announced at the Annual MERLIN Awards Gala. So make sure to book your table in time! We are also still accepting sponsorship for this occasion. The guiding theme of the evening will be the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the successful partnership between the sister cities of Chicago and Hamburg.

On this occasion, we would like to introduce you to Anna Cournoyer, Manager, Events & Membership, who is in charge of the MERLIN Awards Gala, in this month's Staff & Services Spotlight.

During the last two weeks we have been very active in promoting various German-American initiatives with many of our staff traveling through the US and Germany.
In Washington D.C., our President & CEO, Simone Pohl, attended a conference on trade and energy, which was hosted by RGIT on the occasion of the visit of Dr. Eric Schweitzer, Chairman of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) and Ulrich Grillo, Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). At the Hannover Fair in Germany, our Vice President, Mark Tomkins, moderated the US Trade and Investment SummitPromoting the Skills Initiative was another focal point of our activities. 

Great news from Michigan! The state has been recognized as a leader in attracting international investment by the Organization for International Investment (OFII). That this is true indeed, was proven shortly after, when Voxeljet, a German 3D printing company announced that it will locate its first U.S. facility in Michigan after representatives met with Gov. Rick Snyder in Germany.

In the last edition of the ChamberBrief we shared exciting news about the two planned manufacturing institutes in Chicago and Detroit with you. Now, please have a look at this great article in the Chicago Tribune that features Germany’s Fraunhofer research institutes as they “provide lessons for Chicago as it plans $320 million digital manufacturing lab". Also featured in this article as best-practice companies are two of our members, Plasmatreat North America and Wittenstein.

Best wishes | Herzliche Grüße,

Your GACC Midwest team


Upcoming GACC Midwest Events:

The Benefits to Businesses of Foreign Trade Zones on April 15

We are proud to be a promotional partner of the event which is presented by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The panelists will discuss FTZs including how they function, how a company qualifies, how one is implemented and what are their benefits and shortfalls

To register, visit the ITCC website.
$10 for ITCC members and GACC members; $15 for non-members.

Apply * Sponsor * Celebrate * Entertain

THANK YOU ALL for the numerous applications for MERLIN Awards we have received! 

They have been passed on to our independent expert jury and we are as excited as you to learn about the outcome at the MERLIN Awards Gala on May 2. Who will be the well deserved winner to be honoured  in front of 300 top executives of the German-American business community?

Don't miss this evening of excellent food, entertainment, and new connections and book a table today!

And for those of you who have missed the AUDI cars at our Economic Forum earlier this year due to bad weather conditions, we have great news: they will now be displayed at the MERLIN Gala!

Have a look at our website for a complete list of sponsors and if you are interested in becoming a sponsor yourself, please contact Anna Cournoyer.

A special highlight this year will be the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the successful partnership between the sister cities of Chicago and Hamburg!

Current developments in the U.S. transportation sector predict that America’s love affair with the car is slowly coming to an end. More and more cities support the implementation of public transit systems, extensive bike lane networks, and walkable neighborhoods. 

The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc. will host a Business Conference on Energy-Efficient Transportation Systems in Chicago on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. This conference will feature a German delegation with companies that are active in this field as well as German and US transportation experts in order to discuss cutting-edge technologies that can make America’s transportation systems more energy-efficient. For further information contact Petra Stieninger.

Michigan on the Upswing!

Michigan is further on the upswing and recently has been recognized as a leader in attracting international investment by the Organization for International Investment (OFII). The OFII highlighted the positive steps taken by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature to attract global investment, including elimination of Michigan Business Tax, development of Michigan’s talented work force, and impressive results from a high priority on job creation. Further reading

On a similar note: Gov. Rick Snyder concluded a weeklong investment mission to Italy and Germany on April 4. While in Germany, he announced that Voxeljet, a leading provider of high-speed, large-format 3-D printers, will locate its first U.S. facility in Canton, Mich. The service center is expected to come online later this year and will create 15 to 20 direct high-tech local manufacturing jobs. "We made the case that Michigan is the smart business location to grow a manufacturing company and create new jobs," said Snyder. German companies play an important role in the Michigan economy. More information can be found here.

How important this role is, became evident when Eberspaecher North America, North American unit of Esslingen, Germany-based Eberspaecher Climate Control Systems GmbH & Co. KG, announced that it will launch a $122 million expansion, thus creating 545 jobs in Michigan.

And last but not least
"There's Something About a Comeback". Take a look at Automation Alley's great video on the occasion of the 2014 World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems - the "unfolding against-all-odds story" of Detroit!

GACC Midwest
, which last year opened an office in Detroit as response to ongoing German investment in Michigan, is also very active in this region. On Tuesday, April 8, the Michigan Chapter hosted a reception on the occasion of the 2014 SAE World Congress

MI Chapter: SAE Reception

The Michigan Chapter of the German American Chamber of Commerce Midwest hosted their 21st annual SAE Dinner Reception coinciding with the 2014 SAE World Congress. The event was held at the Detroit Athletic Club and was attended by 200 plus guests.                    

Master of Ceremonies was Fred Hoffman, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany. Attending from the Chamber were Simone Pohl, President & CEO, and Dieter Lehnert, Manager of the Michigan branch office.                                                                        
This year’s key note speaker was Dr. Andrew Brown Jr., Vice President and Chief Technologist at Delphi. He presented on "Megatrends: 2014 and Beyond", identifying key drivers of future automotive technologies. These include automated lifestyle, demographic shifts, regionally based growth, comfort and convenience, safety, security, and privacy, the connected world, urbanization, Government intervention, among others.                                    

The Chapter also introduced Janina Luomala as their new Administrative Director/Event Planner. 

Condor Airlines has recently announced its new service between Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) and Minneapolis, MN (MSP). Flights will depart on Mondays and Thursdays with a Boeing 767-300 from June 26th during the summer flight schedule. Besides Minneapolis' only nonstop connection to Germany, Condor is currently adding several more comfortable features to its flights between the Twin Cities and Frankfurt.

Matthias Knobloch, Marketing Specialist at Condor will also be attending our MERLIN Awards Gala. Condor Airlines’ Mr. Achim Lameyer, General Manager Global Sales, will be speaking at the our Minnesota Chapter's Annual Gala 2014 on May 16th, 2014.


With our main signature event of the year, the MERLIN Awards Gala, approaching quickly, we would like to introduce you this month to the person in charge: Anna Cournoyer.

Anna joined our Chamber in 2006 as Trainee and was offered a staff position as Manager Events & Membership in 2008. As a membership-based organization, we strive to offer our members not only the best advice in Consulting and Career Services but also to connect and engage them. And what better place to network and mingle than at an event! Our portfolio encompasses a wide array of bespoke events. Many of you may already have attended our monthly International Business Networking, a truly cosmopolitan event, with the participation of nine different Chambers of Commerce from all over Europe. Another monthly event is the Knowledge Exchange featuring expert guest speakers from our membership base.

Most of you may also be aware of our yearly Signature Events, where the German-American Business community in the Midwest gets the unique opportunity to meet high-ranking representatives from politics and business. These Signature Events, which after more than ten years have become an institution, provide great opportunities to network and discuss the latest business topics – in a circle of established CEOs and economists at the Annual Economic Forum, in the festive atmosphere of our upcoming  MERLIN Awards Gala, or at our joint year review at our luxurious Executive Wine Dinner. This year we are also planning a special Fall Event at Lake Geneva tailored exclusively for our members – so stay tuned for more information and mark your calendars for September 19!

But first of all, Anna and our whole team look forward to seeing you at the MERLIN Awards Gala on May 2!

For a full list of upcoming events, or to join our Event Mailing List and never miss an event again, please click here.

GACC Midwest Review:

U.S. Trade and Investment Summit on April 7
Mark Tomkins, GACC Midwest Vice President, moderated the U.S. Trade & Investment Summit at the Hannover Fair on April 7. This event included key leaders from U.S. and German government and industry. Vice President of the German Bundestag, Edelgard Bulmahn, underscored the importance of German support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) while Tom Donohue, President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber highlighted the immediate need for and benefits that would be realized from TTIP. He also declared that immigration reform would have great benefits for investment by German firms in the U.S. Judy Reinke of the US Department of Commerce impressed the audience with her German language skills and underlined the U.S. administration’s support for TTIP. The panel of business leaders that followed included GACC Midwest Vice Chairman, Dr. Walter Maisel, President & CEO of Kostal of America who emphasized the need for German-style dual education programs in the U.S.. This critical need was echoed by many of the panelists and they welcomed future initiatives that address this key issue

Overall, the panelists, including Bernhard Mattes, President of AmCham Germany and Chairman of Ford-Werke GmbH, underscored that the U.S. is not only an important market for Germany companies, but also an important production and research location. Oftentimes innovations from their U.S. facilities are later produced and exported throughout the world.  

Also present at the Hannover Fair were our Senior Manager, Dr. Petra Stieninger, who attended the Metropolitan Solutions forum and the Director, Consulting Services, Virginia Attaway Rounds, who met with companies to advise them on their U.S. market entry strategies. 

Promoting the Skills Initiative

On April 8, the Center for American Progress and the German Embassy hosted an exclusive roundtable focusing on the critical skills and training topic. From our Chamber, Jayne Riemer-Chishty, Director, Membership and Chamber Development, attendend, as well as a representative from Kostal. Through the Skilled Workforce Initiative, the German Embassy as well as the German American Chambers of Commerce have been working with German and American businesses to identify and expand best practices in workforce development. 

Jayne Riemer-Chishty also gave a presentation on the Dual Vocational Training Model at a community college summit in Peoria, IL. Our Chamber together with our members and board members has been highly involved in developing the MAT2 program in Michigan and we are working with other states to develop similar programs. 

DIHK and BDI Representatives in Washington on April 1

On the occasion of the visit of Dr. Eric Schweitzer, Chairman of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) and Ulrich Grillo, Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), RGIT hosted a conference on trade and energy in the Congressional Auditorium in Washington D.C. on April 1. Topics: “Trading Up: Perspectives on TTIP and its impact on Small and Medium Size Enterprises” and “Fueling Growth: Will Renewables or Shale Gas Power the Transatlantic Economy?” 

Both chairmen underlined in their speeches the huge benefits a Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement could bring to countries on both sides of the Atlantic, especially for small and medium enterprises.

On this note: We would like to learn how your firm would benefit from TTIP. Please let us know and contact Jayne Riemer-Chishty

Photo (from l.): Dr. Thomas Zielke (President and CEO, Representative of German Industry and Trade), Caroll H. Neubauer (Chairman GACC New York), Dr. Eric Schweitzer (Chairman of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK)), Ulrich Grillo (Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI)), Martin Richenhagen (Chairman GACC South)

At the Minnesota Water Technology Business Summit Senior Manager, Dr. Petra Stieninger spoke on "Exploring Synergies for Innovation and Investment", thus presenting GACC Midwest's German American Water Technology Initiative to a very interested audience. 

Fostering ties between German institutions in Chicago – Interns Host Visits

On March 25 and 26, the interns of GACC Midwest were invited by the interns of the German Consulate General and the Goethe-Institut in Chicago to visit their institutions after they had been to the offices of GACC Midwest.

At the German Consulate General, the Consul General, Dr. Christian Brecht, Deputy Consul General, Mario Soos, and Consul, Nikolaus Pohr, welcomed the guests and provided personal and highly interesting insights on the Consulate’s mission, its departments and services, followed by a very generous lunch invitation.

One day later, Program Coordinator Irmi Maunu-Kocian and Language Department Director Katja Fullard from the Goethe-Institut Chicago joined the interns in an engaging roundtable discussion and answered questions on the Institut’s cultural event calendar or the “Just Add German” initiative.

Annual MERLIN Awards Gala – 05/2/2014 – Chicago, IL

Office Space available at GACC Midwest

GACC Midwest has a single private office (150 sq. ft.) available for lease within our downtown Chicago headquarters. Phone/Internet are included. GACC Members and interested parties should contact Matt Wallace for further information.

Anything but dirty!

To our manufacturing companies:

Showcase your high-tech facility in the “Anything but Dirty” feature of the German American Trade magazine (GAT). Flip through sample articles

Platinum Sponsors 2014

ChamberBrief Sponsors

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Contact Justin Flaxbart, Manager, Career Services, or visit our website for more information and internships at GACC Midwest.

Receive all benefits of the highest membership levels of GACC Midwest, GACC New York, and GACC South through our National Partner Program!

Not a GACC Midwest member? Contact Sandy Abraham ((312) 665-0978) today to learn how membership will benefit you and your company!

Update from our network:

On May 22-25, 2014, citizens of the European Union will elect a new parliament. Please find information on how to vote, targeted at Germans abroad, at this link.

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