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Ambassadors get up-close look at Effingham County

POSTED: March 27, 2014 7:47 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

Geoffrey Teneilabe, Nigerian consul general, talks as Brazilian colleague Hermano Ribeiro and Effingham IDA CEO John Henry listen.

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A little more of the world visited Effingham County on Thursday.

The Effingham Industrial Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce hosted Ambassador Hermano Ribeiro, Brazil’s consul general in Atlanta, and Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, the Nigerian consul general based in Atlanta, at the New Ebenezer Retreat Center. The visit was part of the World Trade Center Savannah’s initiative.

The World Trade Center Savannah was started three years ago and it seeks to bring the region to the forefront of international markets, IDA CEO John Henry said.

“The port is getting Savannah a lot of attention internationally,” Henry said. “As the ports grow, this region is going to grow.”

Ribeiro said his mission is to serve the Brazilians living in the southeast U.S. but also to foster stronger ties between the two nations.

“We try to do some work on trade and investments,” he said.

Brazil also has sent thousands of students to study abroad in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We have had 7,000 students come to the United States under this scholarship program,” he said, adding many of them are studying at Georgia colleges and universities.

He also said he has an ambition of connecting Savannah with Brazil’s Santos port, the busiest container port in Latin America.

“Of course, connecting businesses is part of it,” he said.

Teneilabe said his consulate tries to look after the needs of the thousands of Nigerian nationals in the Southeast. There are many doctors from Nigeria now practicing in the U.S., and he said the middle class is evolving in Nigiera.

“We keep busy,” he said. “Savannah represents a very good area of trade and investment for Nigeria.”

A problem in his home country, though, is reliable electrical power. Representatives from EFACEC, including CEO of North American operations Jorge Guerra, also were on hand.

“If we could get a good electrical supply, we could add to our GDP by 45 percent,” he said.

Henry also pointed out that about 75 percent of the projects that look at Effingham are foreign companies. Having the emissaries in Effingham could help spread the word about the county and what it has to offer to more countries.

“They are based in Atlanta; they live in Atlanta,” he said. “They can tell their friends and colleagues about us,” Henry said.

Ribeiro and Teneilabe also visited the Effingham College and Career Academy.

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