Representatives from the South African Consulate General’s Office in New York visited West Hartford on March 23, to initiate a mutually-beneficial relationship with business and government leaders.
By Ronni Newton
Representatives from the South African Consulate General in New York visited West Hartford last Thursday, looking to begin to forge a relationship with potential future stakeholders that they hope will be mutually beneficial.
“South Africa is an economy that is ready for investment. South Africa is ready for trade,” said Acting South African Consulate General Mzwanele Donald Langa, who along with the Consulate’s Business Development Manager Jeff Govan met with representatives from the Town of West Hartford and the business community, including Town Manager Rick Ledwith, Deputy Mayor Liam Sweeney, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Conway, and Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski.
“We wish to deepen our interactions and our ties to the state,” Langa said, noting that the Consulate’s territory covers 15 states, including Connecticut, and they are beginning a process of networking which they hope will lead to future partnerships.
Langa said there are opportunities in South Africa for U.S. investors, particularly in the energy sector where infrastructure upgrades and capacity expansion are needed.
“We need to forge links to develop investment,” Govan said. South Africa has a wide-ranging economy, he said, with core competencies that include high quality, low cost outsourcing of services, particularly for businesses that require 24/7 customer contact.
Both Langa and Govan said they also work with South African businesses that may be looking to expand into the United States, and could benefit from the attention they could receive in a community like West Hartford, where they would not be lost in a sea of larger companies.
They said they were impressed with West Hartford’s diverse population, thriving business community that includes roughly 2,600 brick and mortar businesses, and the excellent reputation of the public schools where 77 different primary languages are spoken. The town’s proximity to both New York and Boston, and the plans for expansion of residential development in West Hartford – where more than 1,500 new units of housing are either under construction or being proposed – were also viewed positively.
Langa and Govan said this was just the beginning, and looked forward to the chance to connect again in the near future.
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