The European nation that manufactures the most cars in the world per capita has established a diplomatic foothold in the Southeastern United States, which shares its automotive affinity and some of the same nameplates.
Slovakiathe new honorary consul of , based in Atlanta whose jurisdiction covers Georgia and Caroline from the southalso has arguably one of the most extensive experiences in connecting local businesses with international opportunities.
John WoodwardVice President of Global Commerce at Atlanta Metropolitan Chamberwas officially installed this week as the first Slovak diplomat in the region as letters were presented to governors of neighboring states.
The Slovak Republic is a country of 6 million people in Central Europe, bordering the Czech Republic, with whom she shared a nation until 1992, as well as Austria, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine West. Slovakia is a European Union member and part of the euro zone. He is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Allianceor NATO.
His exploration of an honorary consulate in Georgia began more than two years ago before the visit of the country’s ambassador at the time, Ivan Korcokwhich saw a “void” in its American outreach in the Southeast.
Just before COVID-19 emerged, Mr. Woodward hosted him on an “exploratory mission” to Atlanta, arranging a series of meetings and sending the ambassador with a Atlanta Falcons scarf for her son. Mr Korčok also met Governor Brian Kemp and shared ideas on how to address workforce development challenges while addressing the prospect of bringing a delegation to the country.
Both sides have a lot to talk about when it comes to the automotive industry, sharing significant investments from brands such as Stellantide and KIA. Germanyit is volkswagenwho owns a factory just across the Georgian border in Chattanooga, Tenn.operates the largest plant in Slovakia in Bratislava, the capital. Georgia and South Carolina have a huge presence of German automotive suppliers.
“It is certain that the parallel between important automotive sectors in Slovakia and in this region is a compelling reason to strengthen economic relations. And there are other growth opportunities as well,” Woodward told Global Atlanta.
Slovakia derives about 12% of its economic output from automobile manufacturing and, at last count, was the ninth-largest automobile exporter to the United States, despite its relatively small size. Electrification is a priority in both localities, which have attracted transformative battery projects setting the tone for the next phase of industry growth.
Now Slovakia’s foreign minister, Mr. Korčok helped appoint Mr. Woodward to two states with a combined Slovak diaspora of more than 11,000. Their responsibilities will include legalizing signatures and copies of documents, as well as issuing emergency travel documents.
But many honorary consulates, including that of the Czech Republic, with which Slovakia shares a heritage and linguistic base, focus heavily on cultural and economic programming in addition to their consular roles.
“Mr. Woodward will make a significant contribution to the development of bilateral relations in the political, defence, economic and cultural spheres, as well as to the development of trade, tourism, education and scientific exchange between the Slovak Republic and the US states of Georgia and South Carolina Ambassador of Slovakia Radovan Javorcik said in a press release.
Fluent in German and FrenchMr. Woodward is known for his extensive experience in seeking foreign investment in Metro Atlanta’s 29 counties, since joining the chamber as director of foreign investment in 2006. There are nearly For three years, he assumed responsibility for all of the chamber’s global business efforts, including its export development programs that support local business’ international sales. Katie Kirkpatrickchairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, where the Slovak consulate will be housed, said Mr. Woodward has exemplified a “competent ability to work collaboratively and with tactful diplomacy” that will benefit both parties.
“I am convinced that this new honorary consulate will provide an opportunity to increase trade, investment and cultural ties between Slovakia and Georgia and South Carolina, and will raise the profile of our states in Slovakia and vice versa” , Mr. Woodward said in a statement.
Prior to coming to Atlanta, Mr. Woodward served as Director of the Department of Economic Development for the City of Richmond, Virginia. Previously, he worked in finance at Cushman and Wakefield in New York Cityand he was a currency consultant at Rüsch International in Washington, DC. He holds a BSFS of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business. He also completed studies at the University of Strasbourg and Higher Business Studies (HEC)both in France.
Mr. Woodward will join a diplomatic corps of more than 70 countries in Atlanta, which is home to more than 40 other honorary consulates, including outposts for Slovakia’s neighboring countries of Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
“These other Central European countries have excellent honorary consuls in place, and I look forward to working with them on regional efforts,” Woodward told Global Atlanta. “I have been to Slovakia several times, including to meet officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in preparation for this role. But I need to learn more about the country outside of Bratislava. I am planning to visit Kosice and other areas on my next trip.”
Czech Honorary Consul Monika Vintrlikova welcomed Mr. Woodward into the Consular Corps.
“I am delighted to have a helping hand serving and representing the Czech and Slovak diaspora. We are bound by our mutual history, where Czechoslovakia was one country until December 1992,” Ms. Vintrlikova told Global Atlanta “Czechs and Slovaks are nations with above-average relations and the great connection between these communities in Georgia is conclusive proof of that. There is so much we can achieve together, especially on the cultural and educational fronts.I’m sure John’s in-depth knowledge of the local environment will propel the Czech and Slovak school in Atlanta to new levels.
Slovakia is also opening a new honorary consulate in Los Angeles this week.
Read more about Slovakia in this article: Interview: Slovak Ambassador Explores Partnerships in Cars, Workforce and Beyond