Last Modified: Friday, August 10, 2012 8:04 PM
A business association is focusing attention on the five-parish area in an attempt to create cultural and economic ties with France.
The French-American Chamber of Commerce Gulf Coast Chapter put representatives on the ground in Lake Charles recently.
“The mission of the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Southwest Louisiana is to promote the interest of this part of the state and France,” said Preble Girard, spokesperson for the organization’s local office.
Next week, the organization will co-host — along with Lake Charles City Hall, the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Alliance — a meeting with area leaders in preparation for Louisiana’s Trade and Investment Mission to France in October.
Jean-Claude Brunet, consul general of France in New Orleans, and Eric Belin, president of the French-American Chamber, will visit Lake Charles 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, in the Civic Center’s Contraband Room to talk about the trade mission and the French government’s and chamber’s developing efforts to work closer with Southwest Louisiana.
“The Lake Charles branch of the chamber is not a mom-and-pop setup. It is one chapter that is part of a larger international organization,” Girard said.
According to the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s website, “The Gulf Coast Chapter (based in New Orleans) ... was organized in 1988.”
The organization has two primary goals: “Promote economic relations between France and the United States and to encourage the development of member companies.”
Girard said the Lake Charles branch will recruit area businesses to join the chamber, which she stressed is only interested in promoting economic and cultural interest between the U.S. and France.
Girard said businesses that join the organization get access to French companies and, in turn, get exposure to the European market.
Girard views the consul general’s visit as historic for the Lake Area.
“It begins to say that we exist here. I can’t help but believe they will see how dynamic we are, and I think some lights will go off (in the minds of the French delegation that visits Lake Charles).”
For more information, call the Gulf Coast Chapter at 504-458-3528 or Daniel Castoriano at 337-479-2958.