GACC Midwest ChamberBrief: October 2014 Issue

Dear Members and Friends, 

Fall is in the air with its multi-colored falling leaves and pumpkins everywhere. Once again we are looking back at an exciting month with our new signature event, the Innovation Forum at the breathtaking Lake Geneva certainly being the highlight! It was a day full of discussionsexchange, and networking. Everyone left inspired, with new insights and a vision to share with their colleagues.

Prior to the Innovation Forum, we held our GACC Midwest Board Meeting. We are excited to welcome Matthias Rebellius, President BT Americas, Building Technologies Division, Infrastructure & Cities Sector, Siemens Industry, Inc. and Peter Einsle, Architect, American Institute of Architects and new President of our Colorado Chapter, as new Board members. For a complete overview of the Board, please click here

Unfortunately, the meeting was heavily overshadowed by the recent loss of our Honorary Board Member, former Vice Chairman, good friend, and colleague Luke Baer, President at Bosch Management Services, whom we will miss dearly.

On Thursday and Friday last week, we were extremely honored to have Dr. Achim Dercks, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), visit our office. The DIHK represents over three million entrepreneurs and also supports and coordinates the network of German Chambers of Commerce abroad with its 130 offices in 90 countries. Read more about his visit below

We are very proud to announce that GACC Midwest has won a two-year grant from the Joyce Foundation in order to support our efforts to expand the German dual education model of workforce development in the Midwest! Click here for detailed information.The grant has enabled GACC Midwest to hire a full-time specialist at the Chamber to supplement efforts already underway.

This leads to a comprehensive Staff & Services Spotlight this month as we would like to introduce you to this specialist, our new Director, Skills Initiative, Mario Kratsch as well as our new Manager, Site Selection Services, Nicolaus A. Susta. We would also like to share the review of Andrea Fangmeyer with you, a consultant from the German Dutch Chamber of Commerce who joined us for the summer.

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and as always appreciate your feedback as well as involvement in our various activities!

Best wishes | Herzliche Grüße,

Your GACC Midwest team

In Memory of our dear GACC Midwest Honorary Board Member and former Vice Chairman Luke Baer

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of our Honorary Board Member, former Vice Chairman, good friend and colleague Luke Baer, President at Bosch Management Services. Luke passed away on Saturday morning, Sept 13, after a courageous fight against cancer.

We will truly miss a dear friend, a mentor and a highly valued member of our Chamber Board of Directors who always showed sound judgment and thoughtfulness, was a loyal and very dedicated supporter of the Chamber, and whose disarming humor always gave us a lift. Whether it was at board meetings, in the Executive and Finance Committee or acting as longtime charismatic master of ceremonies at our signature event, the MERLIN Awards Gala, Luke was always a bit bigger than life and the person we looked to for making the best of the occasion.

The Board of the GACC Midwest has chosen to honor Luke and memorialize his contribution to the Chamber by making a donation to the American Cancer Society.

We lost a truly great member of the Chamber's team. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Laura and the rest of his family. 


DIHK Executive Visits Chicago

Dr. Dercks (5th from left) at the Luncheon meeting on Transatlantic Perspectives

On September 2 and 3, we were excited to welcome a high ranking visitor from the German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) on his first visit to Chicago - Dr. Achim Dercks, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the DIHK. 

During his visit, he had the opportunity to meet our team, our Board and also representatives of the German American Business community and the City of Chicago.  These meetings provided an excellent platform for in-depth discussions on German business in the U.S., the German and U.S. economy, topics such as TTIP, Skills, Energy, Europe, and especially how to continuously further and strengthen the transatlantic cooperation.

Dr. Dercks met with numerous executives of German companies in the U.S., such as Harting North America, KOMET of America, KOSTAL North America,  Krones, NRW Invest, Optima Machinery Corp, Plasmatreat North America, Schunk of North America, Siemens Building Technologies, Wagner Systems,  Weil Engineering North America, Winergy Drive Systems, WITTENSTEIN, and Vetter Development Services USA.   

We also introduced him to representatives from leading Chicago institutions, including World Business Chicago, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the City of Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Environmental Law & Policy Institute, Joyce Foundation as well as members of the consulate corps.

On Friday morning Dr. Dercks met with the GACC Midwest Board at the beautiful offices of Baker & McKenzie, overlooking the Chicago skyline.

He also joined us for the Unity Day Reception, hosted by the German Consul General in Chicago. 

It was a great pleasure to have Dr. Dercks with us!

We are excited to announce that space is filling rapidly for our upcoming GACC Midwest Report “The Age of Innovation.” So be quick and join the others to showcase your company as leader of innovation in your area!

The GACC Midwest Report, our annual signature publication, provides a review of the year and a vision for the future of transatlantic business. The report will be distributed to our network, partners, at our events, as speaker gift in both Germany and the U.S. all year round.  It will also be available online for years to come.

This year’s report will focus on innovation and trends. It will feature a diverse industry section in which our industry experts share their expertise and innovative potential.

We invite you to be Featured as Leader of Innovation in your Industry!

Take a look at some impressions from our last year’s contributors from companies including Bosch, Fragomen, Hannover Messe, Rittal, and many more.

Similarly to our last year’s successful Anniversary Book, options include editorial articles, advertisements, and company profiles, ranging from $450– $3,500 (for details, please review our media kit).

We look forward to representing your company in our signature publication of the year! Get in touch with Jasmin Welter.

Program Announcement “Transatlantic Dialogue – Agricultural Perspectives”

As the U.S. and the EU continue talks for the formation of a free trade agreement through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), there are few more heavily debated topics than food safety - particularly as it relates to agricultural food products.

“Transatlantic Dialogue – Agricultural Perspectives” is an upcoming initiative of GACC Midwest aimed at bringing together representatives of the German and U.S. agricultural sectors for know-how exchange and network building, with the intention of stimulating bilateral dialogue and reducing trade barriers between Germany and the United States in the agricultural sector.

Through a series of roundtable discussions in the Midwest and delegation trips to Germany between 2015 and 2017, GACC Midwest will work to establish mutual understanding for the varying practices of the U.S. and Germany occurring at all levels of the agricultural process.

For more information and to get involved, please contact program manager Corinna Jess.

GACC Midwest Review:

Thank you to our guests and sponsors for making the inaugural Innovation Forum the outstanding event it was! We were certainly blessed by great weather on a beautiful sun-filled Friday afternoon, overlooking the Lake Geneva from the gorgeous Abbey Resort.

Investing in innovation ensures competitiveness, job creation, and sustainable growth. We all know that innovation plays a vital role in the world of business - but it doesn't come easily, acknowledged our Chairman W. David Braun in his opening speech. Howard Tullman, CEO of Chicago’s famous start up hub 1871, kicked off the event with an engaging presentation that shook the audience and opened people's minds. He introduced 5 major trends for the future of innovation and stated that “we are competing against everything,” so companies who want to keep up need to switch now from diagnosing the past to forecasting the future.

In the first panel, featured speakers from a wide range of industries openly discussed their challenges in the innovation process and possible solutions. Access to a pool of skilled workers manifested itself as a central concern. All panelists agreed that a culture of innovation needs a positive attitude toward failure, an emphasis on talent retention, and an open mind!

In the second panel, our moderator discussed organic and inorganic (M&A) growth strategies with five corporate speakers. While the executives outlined their different growth strategies, our panel agreed that every approach needs to respect corporate culture(s) and embrace the new.

Keynote and panels provided our attendees with a lot of food for thought – in order to end the day right, we hosted our very own Midwest Oktoberfest! With Brats, Bretzn, and German beers, everyone enjoyed a wonderful dinner party, while the Hirsch band was providing an authentic Oktoberfest soundtrack.

For all who missed the event, have a look at the program and our picture gallery online!

Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible!
airberlin, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Christkindlmarket Chicago, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, J.P. Morgan Chase, Messe Düsseldorf North America, Plasmatreat, Quarles & Brady LLP, Steuben County Economic Development Corporation

The Transatlantic Program for Young Technology Leaders (TAP-YTL) recently completed its latest delegation trip to Germany in the final week of September 2014. During the 8-day trip throughout Germany, 10 highly motivated young professionals and promising PhD candidates explored cutting-edge technologies in the German Energy sector in Berlin, Hamburg, Goslar, Bonn, Düsseldorf and on Pellworm Island.

Key industry players like, Siemens AG, Wind Energy Hamburg, and the Bundesnetzagentur opened their doors to engage the delegates in dialogue on the latest developments regarding energy management technologies and the Energiewende in Germany. Additionally, visits to MEET - Münster Electrochemical Energy Technology and the Energie-Forschungszentrum Niedersachsen spurred opportunities for international research collaborations between the U.S. and Germany.

The TAP-YTL Smart Grid & Energy Storage group joins a growing community of over 250 young leaders that have taken part in the exclusive transatlantic opportunity since 2003. The next TAP-YTL trip will take place in Mid-2015 and focus on the areas of IT, digital media, and start-up tech.

One of the delegates of this trip, Robert Fares, just posted his first in a series of entries on Scientific American online, in which shares his main takeaways from his experience!

German Unity Day Reception

On Thursday, Oct 2, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Herbert Quelle, and his wife Corinna Niestrath-Quelle, invited to a reception to celebrate the Day of German Unity at the prestigious Union League Club of Chicago. Addressing a full house, Mr. Quelle referred to his first posting as vice consul in Los Angeles in 1983, when the tricentennial of the first German immigration to the US was celebrated. Since 1987, Oct 6 has been annually proclaimed German American Day. Also present and addressing the audience was Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament.


Mario Kratsch joined GACC Midwest on October 1. He grew up in Gera, Germany, then went to Halle/Saale for his studies in Education Science, specializing in the field of vocational training. During his studies he worked with the German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce in London to help establish standards of vocational training based on the German Dual-System. Finishing his studies with the Diploma, he joined the IHK Ostthueringen zu Gera to work in the department for Vocational Training, advising companies and managing all aspects of organizing of vocational training.

He later joined and eventually became head of the Department for International Trade at IHK Ostthueringen zu Gera, providing assistance to companies in all fields of international trade. Being responsible for partnership projects of IHK Ostthueringen zu Gera, he gained expert knowledge in Know-How-Transfer in several countries, such as in Central Asia and the Balkans.

In his new position at GACC Midwest, he is leading the Skills Initiative, responsible for implementing the German Dual-Model of Vocational Training with companies and initiatives in the Midwest. He’s supporting the ongoing projects and acts as a coordinator and contact person for all companies and key partners in the Midwest. On October 6, he spoke at the “Big German Career Day” to around 250 students about the benefits of learning German and, most importantly, about the advantages of the German Dual System of Vocational Training. The event was organized by the Goethe-Institut Chicago.

You can meet Mario at the Skills Initiative Spotlight prior to our Executive Wine Dinner on Nov 7! 

Nicolaus A. Susta - Manager, Site Selection & Consulting Services

Nic Susta joined GACC Midwest in September 2014. He grew up in Hamburg, Germany, then moved to Virginia for his B.A. in English and New York for his J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree. He has worked as an attorney at U.S. and German law firms, specializing in U.S. business law with a German or international component, and most recently owned his law and business consulting firm in Stuttgart, Germany.

Even before joining GACC Midwest, Nic assisted German companies in entering the U.S. market and U.S. companies in entering the German market, providing comprehensive business, legal, and intercultural advice and managing projects and events to develop business and trade. He has worked with many large, small, and mid-sized companies and knows the special needs of the German “Mittelstand”.

Nic Susta manages the GACC’s site selection projects, guiding clients through the many factors that require evaluation: Customer needs, logistics costs and times, finding and holding qualified personnel, investment incentives and taxes, business and legal environments, personal preferences, as well as budgeting and financing. 

Let Nic help you find the right site for your company!

Andrea (second from left) at the German Night Reception)

Great ideas are born through dialogue - everywhere. Which is why we were proud to have Andrea Fangmeyer, Project Manager at the German Dutch Chamber of Commerce in The Hague, with us this summer. This exchange between two pioneers among the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad helped to foster innovation and improve services on both sides of the Atlantic. But let's hear her what she has to say:

"From June to September 2014 I had the unique opportunity to leave the Netherlands and dive right into U.S. business culture. GACC Midwest in Chicago with its knowledgeable team and wide range of services was an amazing place to spend the summer and I experienced the warmest welcome! I was part of the Consulting Services Department where I worked on a government project, a project proposal for the Transatlantic Program with a focus on agriculture as well as event promotion for the Innovation Forum. It was a pleasure to work with such a highly motivated team! Of course I also took the chance to explore the city together with my new colleagues. Among my highlights were a trip to Wisconsin to a county fair as well as the Jay Pritzker Pavillon at Millennium Park with its many free concerts and events, the Art Institute as well as the fireworks at Navy Pier!

I highly appreciate this chance to implement new ideas at the German Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands and am sending my warmest regards to my colleagues in the Windy City!"

Upcoming GACC Midwest Events:

Picture credits: Travis Estell

Together with Confluence - the Water Technology Innovation Cluster of the Ohio River Valley Region - GACC Midwest will be hosting this transatlantic dialogue on water technology innovation.  This roundtable will bring together industry leaders from both sides of the Atlantic and offer an exclusive knowledge and business exchange in a fruitful expert discussion.

Event highlight:
Right in time for the wet season, the 3rd edition of the German American Water Technology Magazine will be released during this GAWT Roundtable. Join us and get a free copy of this exciting international water technology read!   

Click here for registration and more information.

The Annual Executive Wine Dinner is one of GACC Midwest’s finest events featuring unique wines from Germany and other European Countries paired with an exquisite seven-course meal. This year, we are pleased to host this exclusive event at the prestigious Ritz Carlton in Chicago.

The evening starts off with a refreshing cocktail reception followed by a gourmet sit-down dinner. It is not too late to secure your seat or corporate table! The Annual Executive Wine Dinner is truly a perfect event to entertain your clients, co-workers, and friends alike.

Join us prior to the Wine Dinner at our Skills Initiative Spotlight!
We will provide an overview of the various skills initiatives already under way in the Midwest. Our newly appointed Director, Skills Initiative, Mario Kratsch looks forward to seeing you there. Event details to follow soon, contact Jayne Riemer-Chishty if you are interested or have any questions.

Your opinion counts! The German American Chambers of Commerce (GACCs) in cooperation with the Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants survey the headquarters of over 1,900 German companies in the U.S. to assess their economic outlook.This year, we would especially like to hear your company’s perspective on the transition toward Industrie 4.0/the Smart Factory, Skilled Workforce, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Stay Tuned! The letters will be sent out shortly and the survey will be available online as well.

Make sure to participate in this study that gives your business a voice & win two tickets to the result presentation in NYC!

Join us at the exclusive presentation of the results in New York!

The results presentation and a panel discussion as well as the GACC Award Ceremony will be held at Thomson Reuters on Times Square in New York City on Monday, December 8, 2014

For sponsorship opportunities, including being featured on the Thomson Reuters’ jumbotron at Times Square, please contact Jasmin Welter

We are proud to announce that The Honorable Dr. Peter Wittig, newly appointed Ambassador of Germany to the United States of America is confirmed as keynote speaker.

This will be the ambassador's first introduction to the German-American business community in the Chicagoland area. Save the date to meet Germany's highest-ranking representative to the U.S. and learn about his plans for the future of transatlantic business relations! Stay tuned for more information.


The conference will feature a delegation of award-winning leaders from the German automotive supply industry.

Hear Birgit Behrendt, Vice President, Global Programs & Purchasing Operations, Ford Motor Company, who will be giving the keynote speech.

Take advantage of this rare chance to learn firsthand how the latest innovations from Europe can benefit you and your customers, and explore opportunities for partnership with German industry leaders.
Register now and join us for this auspicious event! 

The 50th anniversary of the Chicago International Film Festival is just around the corner! As always, many films in German are going to be part of the competition from October 9 to 23. 

The German International School Chicago (GISC) and the DANK Haus welcome children of all ages to a fun-filled autumn celebration. In Europe, Laternenfest is a fall festival where children walk through their villages with lighted lanterns on the eve of St. Martin's feast day (Martinstag).

Our Chicago celebration includes lantern-making and other kid-friendly activities and concludes with a lantern parade at dusk. The Laternenfest takes place on Sunday, November 9 at 2:30 pm. More information

Platinum Sponsors 2014

ChamberBrief Sponsors

Open Positions:

  • Sales Engineer (Rapid Prototyping Services)
  • Plant Manager (3D Printing Industry)
  • Account Manager (3D Printing Industry)
  • Finance and Human Resources Manager
  • Head of Sales (Telematics)

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

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