ATLANTA – The Bahamas Consulate-General in Atlanta, Georgia, was opened in response to the growing demand for services by Bahamians resident in the greater Atlanta area and by businesses in the southeastern United States interested in expanding trade and investment in The Bahamas, according to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Mr. Ingraham gave the keynote address at a welcome ceremony on the JB Fuqua Rooftop Pavilion at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, where hundreds of Bahamians and supporters of The Bahamas – including prospective business partners – crammed in to welcome The Bahamas to the areas diplomatic community.
“The relationship between The Bahamas and the United States is long-standing and wide, touching on virtually every aspect of life – familial, education, business, trade and culture,” Mr. Ingraham said. “Atlanta, home of Delta, is a significant hub for Delta’s Bahamas flights, making it one of the most important markets for our tourism business and for that we thank Delta very much indeed.”
The prime minister said the growth in the number of Bahamians studying and working in and around Atlanta area and the growing importance of trade links between The Bahamas and Georgia made it “abundantly clear” that resident career representation was warranted. He thanked Michael Young, who had served as The Bahamas’ Honorary Consul, and his wife for their service to The Bahamas and for their support during the transition.
Atlanta is home to a number of colleges, technical schools and universities which have attracted Bahamian students over the years including Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Morehouse College and Spellman College.
Alumni of some of those institutions and other Bahamians living in the Atlanta area joined the new Consul General, Katherine Forbes-Smith, at a brief ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday morning, with Mr. Ingraham, Bahamas Ambassador to the US CA Smith and the Consuls-General of Miami and New York looking on.
Mrs. Smith, a former Senator and Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport, Grand Bahama, was enthusiastic about the role the new consulate will play in promoting The Bahamas within the US.
“Our focus,” she said, “is to assist Bahamian nationals and provide normal consular services to them and visitors to our shores. This office will also focus its attention in a very real and tangible way on business and economic development which we believe is absolutely necessary given the current global conditions.”