GACC Midwest ChamberBrief: December 2014 Issue

Dear Members and Friends,

The month of December is always a great opportunity to look back on the past year - and what a year it has been for GACC Midwest!

With the Inspiration for Innovation Forum and our forthcoming Signature Publication, the GACC Midwest Report, we focused on innovation, a central pillar of the success of German companies in the U.S.

Skills and technical training has been another huge topic. We received a two-year grant from the Joyce Foundation and were able to hire a full-time specialist, Mario Kratsch. Thus we were not only able to supplement efforts already underway but we announced ICATT, our new Skills Program in Illinois!

Additionally, we are happy to report that our membership base is growing steadily! Welcome our new members from the last quarter.

Lastly, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you all: our members for joining and supporting us, everyone who attended and supported our events, our sponsors without whom our events would not have been possible, and those who have partnered with us in our projects. Your support has been crucial to our success!

The importance of German business in the Midwest has once again been confirmed by the results of the German American Business Outlook (GABO), presented at Times Square in New York on December 8:

  • 98% of German companies expect positive revenue growth for their own business and the U.S. economy in 2015.
  • 90% of German companies reported the same or much better sales volumes in 2014 – despite flat sales prices.
  • 64% of German companies are increasing their strategic focus on the U.S. in connection with market size and customer proximity.

To start the new year off on these positive results, join us at the Annual Economic Forum on January 29! Registration is now open. 

But before we start into another eventful year, we hope you will join us in two days at the Jingle Mingle at the Christkindlmarket Chicago where we will see the old year out together! 

For the new year, please already mark your calendars for the Farewell Reception hosted by our Chairman W. David Braun (Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP) in honor of our President & CEO Simone Pohl, who will be leaving GACC Midwest to take on a new role as Chief Representative of the Delegation of German Industry & Commerce Shanghai: Wednesday, January 14, 2015.

We wish you happy holidays and all the best for the New Year! The GACC Midwest team looks forward to working with you in 2015.

Best wishes | Herzliche Grüße,

Your GACC Midwest team


GACC Midwest Review:

The AHK USA Board in front of the GABO Jumbotron on Times Square

Group Picture with the Panel featuring BASF, Carl Zeiss, Porsche, and WITTENSTEIN

On Monday, December 8, the GACCs, Roland Berger, and over 150 attendees gathered at Thomson Reuters on Times Square in New York City for the presentation of the GABO 2015 results.

The results presentation was followed by an industry panel with executives from BASF, Carl Zeiss, Porsche, and Wittenstein (moderated by Rob Cox, Thomson Reuters), which discussed the key findings of this year's survey:

  • German companies continue to grow as a result of a strong U.S. market performance. With rising investments and continuous hiring, German firms encounter labor shortages in STEM related fields.
  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is gaining importance, with businesses anticipating lower tariffs and better regulatory cooperation to provide future growth incentives.
  • Many companies have not exploited innovative opportunities through Industry 4.0 (Smart Factory, Big Data), which could prove to be game changers for future growth and global competitiveness. 

Click here for the Press Release, the Presentation, and the Executive Summary. For more information, please contact Jasmin Welter.

A special highlight of the 6th German American Business Outlook was the presentation of the GACCs Award “Trainee of the Year”, which was given to Nigeria Williams of MTU America. Nigeria is the first female apprentice in MTU’s Skilled Metal Worker program at the German company's Aiken Plant.

The GACC Award recognizes outstanding individuals working for German subsidiaries who have demonstrated excellence in their workforce training programs. MTU America nominated Nigeria because of her strong work ethic and willingness to learn. She is considered a valued MTU America team member who comes to work with a positive can-do outlook and eagerly takes on assigned tasks with enthusiasm. Her leadership skills also directly support MTU’s core value of continuous improvement, and serve as an excellent example to MTU’s other apprentices.

Williams said, “Without this training program, I probably wouldn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but thankfully being introduced to this program I know that when I get older, I want to be an engineer.”

Read more about Nigeria's achievement in our press release.

From left to right: Mario Soos, Deputy Consul General of Germany; W. David Braun, Chairman GACC Midwest; Stephan Wernicke; Simone Pohl, President & CEO GACC Midwest

On December 4, we had a special guest speaker, Prof. Dr. Stephan Wernicke, Chief Legal Officer of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), joining us from Germany to present the initiative “Law - Made in Germany” during an exclusive roundtable discussion.

Subsequently, the 23 participants entered in a lively discussion on the differences between the German and U.S. legal system, the ongoing EU-U.S. negotiations on TTIP, specifically regarding arbitration, as well as recent developments in the area of class actions. 

Copyright: Oscar & Associates

As part of our Event Services Nadine Schieban and her team organized the German High Tech Champion Award in Medical Imaging on December 2, 2014 on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Fraunhofer.

Participants heard the business case pitches from this year's five German High Tech Champions, learned about the latest and upcoming technological advances in medical imaging, and had ample opportunity to make valuable business connections during the dinner and networking reception. This event was organized on the occasion of the RSNA trade show taking place in Chicago. Click here for a complete review.

Yo-Yo Ma with the Christkindlmarket team. Credit: Todd Rosenberg

If you went to the Christkindlmarket Chicago on Sunday, December 7, you were in for quite a treat: 

Famed cellist and CSO creative consultant Yo-Yo Ma joined the members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (the CSO’s training ensemble) in a breathtaking pop-up performance of pieces by J.S. Bach at the Christkindlmarket Chicago.


This month we would like to introduce you to Corinna Jess, the program manager for GACC Midwest’s latest initiatives related to transatlantic trade.

Corinna joined GACC Midwest in Spring 2010. Since then, she has been mainly responsible for GACC Midwest’s market entry programs in the areas of clean energy and sustainability. You may have been in touch with her during the numerous business delegations she has brought to Chicago and the Midwest, covering topics such as bioenergy, solar, wind, and energy efficiency.

Prior to joining GACC Midwest, Corinna spent three years working in marketing and sales at a large German food manufacturer. Combining the gained knowledge on international trade issues related to food production with her network building skills, Corinna is now also leading GACC Midwest’s new initiative Transatlantic Dialogue – Agricultural Perspectives.” The goal of this Transatlantic Dialogue is to bring together representatives of the German and U.S. agricultural sectors for know-how exchange and network building, with the intention of reducing trade barriers between Germany and the United States and advancing the formation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The first topic of the initiative will be soil health and nutrient management, exploring innovative agricultural methods to conserve soil and water, and maximize crop output.

If you have any suggestions of places to be visited during the program by agricultural professionals both in Germany and the U.S. or simply want to share news articles on agriculture-related trade questions, Corinna looks forward to hearing from you!


Mario Kratsch, Director, Skills Initiative

The ICATT (Illinois Consortium for Advanced Technical Training) Program Steering Committee had its constitutional first meeting on Dec 3. Companies on the Steering Committee so far are: Harting, Herrmann Ultrasonics, Komet, WITTENSTEIN, and GACC Midwest. The program is also strongly supported by the Illinois Manufacturing Association.

First meetings with administrators and instructors of school districts 211 and 214 were conducted this week as well. ICATT was enthusiastically received and both districts committed themselves to supporting the recruiting process and encourage students to participate. Stay tuned for information sessions and interviews, which will begin in early 2015! 

MAT²’s Mechatronics Examination Committee had its constitutional first meeting on Dec 10 where the preparation of PART I of the German-standard Mechatronics exam (to be conducted in summer 2015) started.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs, please contact Mario Kratsch.

Upcoming GACC Midwest Events:

Join us for a Special Edition of our European Networking Reception in the Festival Tent at the Christkindlmarket Chicago!

Treat yourself to an early christmas gift and purchase a raffle ticket with the chance to win a Chicago Bears jersey, signed by Matt Forte, Running Back, with a certificate of authenticity, a Vapiano gift card, a WMF 8-piece cookware set, a Zentis gift box, and many more!

Enjoy authentic German Christmas treats and Glühwein in the Lufthansa Festival Tent, connect with Chicago's international business community in a unique environment, and use the opportunity to take a stroll over the Christkindlmarket. Register now

The Panel 2014

Tables 2014

Sponsors 2014

Our annual Economic Forum provides a valuable outlook for transatlantic businesses in 2015. Join the Forum for exclusive first-hand insights presented by the top business leaders. Find answers to the questions:

  • Where is our economy heading - locally, nationally, and on a global scale?
  • What are the decisive business trends in 2015?
  • Which solutions are business leaders developing to respond to challenges in their industries? 

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Peter Wittig, new Ambassador of Germany to the United States of America as keynote speaker!

A dynamic panel, moderated by Michael Backfisch, Head of the News Desk of Thueringer Allgemeine Newspaper, will discuss the outlook for transatlantic business in 2015. Adolfo Laurenti, Chief International Economist at Mesirow Financial, Markus Glueck, Area Vice President at Rational North America, John Lample, President, Kalle Group / Kalle USA, and more top executives of German subsidiaries (to be announced shortly) will participate in the panel.

Become a Sponsor and join the Economic Forum with up to 10 associates! 
The GACCs and RGIT's Economic Forum is a great way to entertain your clients, business partners, or employees, while introducing your company to an audience of over 200 top business executives. Contact Anna Cournoyer for more information.

GACC Midwest’s last TAP-YTL: Smart Grid & Energy Storage delegation trip to Germany recently received lots of noteworthy media attention.

We already mentioned our delegate Robert Fares who started posting a series of blog entries on Scientific American online, in which he shares his main takeaways from his experience. The blog is called Energiewende: Two Energy Lessons for the United States from German

Another participant, Katarina Prutzman, looks back on the delegation trip in Lessons from Germany: Can the U.S. succeed with its own Energiewende? where she compares energy strategies in Germany and the U.S.

And last but not least the research project SmartRegion Pellworm, one of the places visited during the delegation trip, has been awarded as one of the 100 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas” in Germany. Out of those 100 nominees it won the audience award as the most popular idea 2014.



Join us on Wednesday at the Jingle Mingle where we raffle of this jersey.

Ongoing Christkindl Markets:

Stay up-to-date on the latest transatlantic news, learn how German companies are expanding their U.S. Business, welcome new executives to the C-Suite!

In this issue
Read a review of our Inspiration for Innovation Forum!

Do YOU want to be on the cover of this international publication? Contact Jasmin Welter to learn more about your options!

We would like to congratulate our Michigan Member Company Preh Inc. which was recently selected as one of Crain’s 2014 “Cool Places to Work in Michigan!”

Thank you to all our new members for joining our network!

We look forward to learning more about your organizations and to engaging with you further!

  • Baumot North America LLC
  • Bejin Bieneman PLC
  • BLG Logistics, Inc.
  • Bullaro & Carton, P.C.
  • Digital Brandworks
  • East Kentucky Power Cooperative
  • Ernst Metal Technologies LLC
  • Gustav Käser Training International
  • JKJ & H International
  • ME Industires US
  • Munich Reinsurance America Inc.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Roechling Automotive USA LLP
  • Schaeffler Group USA Inc
  • Stanton Chase International
  • Transatlanticpass Consulting & Sales Agency LLC
  • Vitronic Machine Vision LTD
  • Vonk Translation

If you have not done so yet,  take a look at our newly released German American Water Technology Magazine!

Platinum Sponsors 2014

ChamberBrief Sponsors

Open Positions:

  • Sales Engineer
  • Business Development Manager
  • IT Consultant/Project Manager
  • Sales Administration Manager
  • Field Sales Engineer

    For details, contact Justin Flaxbart, Manager, Career Services, or visit our website.

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