On Friday, a delegation representing Charlotte’s business sector is scheduled to fly to Germany on a job-recruitment trip.
Sven Gerzer, a vice president for economic development with the Charlotte Chamber, summed up the objective in two words: “Plant seeds.”
You could say they’re playing to Charlotte’s strength. Some 127 German companies already have operations in Charlotte, according to chamber statistics for 2012. That makes Germany by far the country with the biggest business presence in Charlotte. (The United Kingdom ranks No. 2 with 84 firms).
Gerzer, a native of Munich, will be a key salesman for Charlotte. He speaks German and understands the culture, having grown up there. But he also knows the Carolinas. He graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in international studies from the University of South Carolina's highly touted program. (He chose the university after his parents said he could go anywhere in the world for college – but he’d be helping to pay for it, he recalled with a chuckle).
His personal story might prove persuasive to German business leaders. He enjoys life here in the Carolinas that he has no desire to return to Germany. “I love it here,” he says. “It makes my job (selling the city to companies) easier because I believe what I tell them.”