SWEDISH AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE | GEORGIA

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  • 3 Dec 2021 12:18 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We had the honor to speak with Susanne Howard, President of SWEA in Atlanta.

    What is your connection to Sweden?

    I was born and raised in Sweden. After High School I went to Germany to work and I met my husband who was stationed there with the US army. I try to go to Sweden as much as I can to see my family and of course it is easier now to stay in touch via phone and social media. 

    Tell us a little bit about your organization, what does SWEA Atlanta do?

    SWEA Atlanta is a local branch of SWEA International, Swedish Women's Educational Association, which is a global non-profit association for Swedish-speaking women who are or have lived outside Sweden's borders. Our vision is to reach out to as many Swedish-speaking women in the world as we can. SWEA was founded in Los Angeles in 1979 by Agneta Nilsson when she met other Swedish women in the area who were all eager to keep in touch with each other. SWEA is also located in Sweden and is a support for many Swedish women who return home after years abroad.

    Do you have anything planned for the coming months?

    The main event that we are planning is an outdoor Christmas market on December 4th 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM at Chamblee First United Methodist Church 4147 Chamblee Dunwoody RD, Atlanta, GA 30341. Our Annual Swedish Christmas Market showcases the culture and holiday traditions of Sweden and draws many international and American families from around the state. You can find unique Swedish crafts and gifts such as Swedish home-baked goods, Swedish chocolates and candy as well as traditional and modern handicrafts. We have been meeting regularly via zoom and outdoors during the pandemic, but are hoping to resume indoor gatherings for our members in January and February. 

    Is it something else you want to bring up? 

    SWEA Atlanta awards one scholarship a year to a male or female who plans on studying the Swedish language, literature, culture, tradition, music, design, or environment. The scholarship must be used in conjunction with university-level studies. The scholarship can also be awarded to a female non-student who works or is otherwise involved in any of these areas.

    For more information about SWEA in Atlanta please visit the website.


  • 3 Nov 2021 10:43 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We had the honor of  speaking with Ralph Howard, Chairman of Vasa in Atlanta.

    What is your connection to Sweden?

    My connection to Sweden is my wife. We have been married for 37 years. We met on a blind date in West Germany in November 1983. ​​After Ralph completed his military service and graduate school in Alabama, the couple moved to Atlanta and have lived here since. 

    Tell us a little bit about your organization, what does Vasa do? 

    The Vasa lodge in Atlanta is one out of 18 districts of the Vasa Order. Vasa is about sharing, enjoying and propagating Scandinavian culture and heritage. As a group of 30-55 members in Atlanta we celebrate all the classic Swedish holidays, have members' meetings and we try to celebrate other nationalities beside Sweden, with representatives from other countries, where they get to show us their culture. 

    Vasa’s name reflects the organization’s roots as a Swedish-American fraternal organization and started more than a century ago.Vasa Order of America emerged from the many Swedish societies that existed as a safety net for early immigrants. The Vasa Order comprises the Grand Lodge, 18 District Lodges, and nearly 200 local lodges.

    Who are your members? If you are not a member, how do you become a member?

    Our members were born in Nordic countries, are of Nordic ancestry or the spouse of an active Vasa member, are a non-Nordic widow or widower of a Vasa member, or are committed to the promotion and advancement of Swedish and Nordic heritage and culture.

    Do you have anything planned for the coming months?

    Usually, we celebrate the classic Swedish holidays and other Nordic holidays. Unfortunately, we do not have anything planned right now because of the Covid situation. We are hoping to plan something soon for our members. 

    For more information about Vasa in Atlanta, please visit the website. 


  • 11 Oct 2021 10:20 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We had the honor of speaking with Göran Rygert founder of Vasa Drängar in Atlanta, and Jay Lutz President of Vasa Drängar in Atlanta.

    What is your connection to Sweden?

    Göran: I was born in Småland but grew up on Öland. I have a Master’s Degree in architecture from Chalmers and moved to Atlanta 1993 after 33 years of work in Malmö and Stockholm.

    Jay: We had a Swedish exchange student in my home when I was in high school which sparked my interest for Sweden. In college I studied abroad in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden. I stayed in Stockholm during the summer afterwards and worked. After graduating I  received a Fulbright fellowship to do graduate work. I spent a year studying Swedish literature so now I speak Swedish and I even teach it.

    Tell us a little bit about your organization, what does Vasa Drängar in Atlanta do?

    Vasa Drängar is a nonprofit men’s choir which started in 1996.  Göran was asked to put  together a group and sing some Swedish songs at a crayfish event. “We found that people appreciated it and we like to sing, so we kept going since then, 25 years ago.” Vasa Drängar sings at many Swedish events and for other organizations. Vasa Drängar does not just sing in Atlanta, they also travel around in the United States to sing at various events.

    How do you become a member in Vasa Drängar?

    To be a member we require that people can read music.It is not a requirement but it helps if you have been part of a choir before. We sing songs in different languages, so you do not need to speak Swedish.  

    Do you have anything planned for the coming months?

    We do not have anything planned right now because of the pandemic but hope to have something soon. We are currently planning an American Union of Swedish Singers’ big convention that will take place in 2023 here in Atlanta where choirs from all over the United States - even from Sweden - get together for a big concert. 

    If you want to become a member or want more information about the big concert that is planned, please contact Göran or Jay.

  • 16 Sep 2021 7:52 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We had the honor to speak with Anna Laube, Vice President at the Swedish School in Atlanta

    What is your connection to Sweden?

    I was born and raised in Sweden and moved here 18 years ago. I married to an American and have two children where I speak Swedish with them at home. We joined the Swedish School six years ago as a compliment to what we learn at home. 

    Tell us a little bit about your organization, what does the Swedish School Atlanta do?

    The Swedish School Atlanta started in 1994 by few Swedish parents in Atlanta. It started as a small organization with a few children and now it has grown to around 40 children. The Swedish School of Atlanta is a school for children from 2-13 years old. We invite children who have Swedish parents, Swedish heritage or some connection to Sweden. The Swedish School provides an opportunity to keep Swedish language alive and also teaches the students about Sweden, geography, history and Swedish culture and traditions. The teaching is based on increasing the children’s speech, reading, and writing skills. 

    “We think it is very important for children to be part of something bigger and be around other people speaking Swedish and not just their family, which we think might spark another interest of learning Swedish and about Sweden”

    To enroll in Swedish School Atlanta the family should visit the Swedish School Atlanta website and where they can contact the school and provide information about the children, how much they speak Swedish at home, what the children’s connection is to Sweden. It is still not too late to register children for this school year

    What do you have planned for the coming months?

    The events that are happening are for our students and their families and will know more about them when children are part of the school. But we are planning to have a field day in the coming weeks with a lot of fun activities that are connected to Sweden for the Students and the families. Even further we are planning for Lucia and Christmas celebrations. We mark the schedule on our website for special events like this. 

    For more information about the Swedish School in Atlanta please visit the website


  • 19 Aug 2021 4:58 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)


    We had the pleasure of meeting with Nina Maja Bergmar, founder of the law firm Bergmar Law LLC.  Bergmar decided to open her own law firm in January 2021 after working for six and a half years with different large firms in Atlanta. While she previously defended employer companies in employment disputes, she now represents individual employees who have been subjected to unlawful employment actions by their employers.  So far, her hard work has paid off with lots of success! She talks about the flexibility of having her own business and being a mother of a 19-month-old-baby, and much more – enjoy!

    Dream coming true

    Ever since Bergmar was a young child, she knew that she wanted to become a lawyer. She moved from Sweden to the U.S. to finish her last two years of high school at an international boarding school. She then attended Dartmouth College, where she graduated with a double major in Government and Women’s & Gender Studies. After graduating from college, Bergmar’s dream of becoming a lawyer began to materialize as she was accepted to Vanderbilt Law School. 

    After graduating from law school in 2014, Bergmar worked at several different big law firms in Atlanta where she represented and defended employer companies in employment disputes with employees. In January 2021, Bergmar decided to go out on her own and “switch sides”; she started Bergmar Law LLC and began representing individuals subjected to unlawful employment actions by employers, such as discrimination, retaliation, leave denial, and pay issues.  She said she is loving the new practice so far.

    No day looks like the other.  

    Bergmar further explained the perks of having her own firm. The flexibility and doing work on her own terms were attractive, she said.

    I've always had a bit of an entrepreneurial streak”

    Bergmar has always had an entrepreneurial streak and was also longing for a more flexible work schedule. “I just want to emphasize that it is possible to have a successful legal career and also have young children,” she said. “Many firms are willing to accommodate you in whatever way they can, but if it's not possible then don't be scared to go out on your own.”  

    In Bergmar’s practice, no day looks like the other. “I get crazy cases every day. The thing with employment law is that it never gets boring,” Bergmar said. Bergmar explained that her work involves a lot of interpersonal disputes and sometimes severe cases of discrimination and retaliation. 

    Bergmar was always interested in representing individuals, but the bigger law firms she used to work at only represented the defendant companies, she explained. Bergmar was also eager to use her experience from working with larger law firms to practice law her own way, on her own terms. 

    “I wanted to go out on my own and just do it my way.”

    Unique selling point

    Bergmar Law LLC is unique in that Bergmar has first-hand experience with representing both sides in an employment dispute. 

    I know what the other side is thinking.” 

    Her insights into the thinking and strategies of the other side helps her better represent her clients. 

    The other reason why she stands out is that she takes pride in being responsive. Bergmar emphasizes the importance of following up and maintaining positive relationships with clients. 

    Her love of Atlanta, GA

    From a lawyer's point of view, Atlanta is one of the best legal markets in the country. You can find all types of industries and people, and it's a very diverse environment. To have the opportunity to work with clients of diverse backgrounds, income levels, and ethnicities is something Bergmar appreciates and enjoys.

    I've just fallen in love with this city, it has so much to offer.” 

    Before she moved to Atlanta, Bergmar did not know much about the city. She was very pleasantly surprised when she saw everything that Atlanta has to offer. Her favorite places to visit in Atlanta are Piedmont Park, the Beltline, Ponce City Market, and Krog Street Market. Several friends who have visited Bergmar in Atlanta have expressed an immediate interest in relocating to the city, which Bergmar thinks is a good review of the city.

    Her connection to Sweden. 

    Bergmar grew up in Mariefred, Sweden, which is located approximately 45 minutes outside of Stockholm. Bergmar wanted to get involved with the Swedish community in Atlanta, so she reached out to SACC GA. She said that it is fantastic to be on the other side of the earth and meet people with various connections to Sweden. It is also very nice to connect with people from the same culture, she said. 


    Bergmar finished the conversation by inviting anyone who needs guidance on starting their own business to reach out to her – she is always happy to chat.

  • 2 Jul 2021 11:16 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tycho Stahl, who is a partner and practice leader of the Global Commerce Practice at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP.  Mr. Stahl is also a board member of SACC-GA. Arnall Golden Gregory is a midsize law firm with offices in both Atlanta and Washington. They provide clients with a full range of services including real estate, healthcare, retail, global commerce and mobility, government investigations, and life sciences. Mr. Stahl mainly focuses on foreign companies and their interactions with the U.S.

     

    Background

    Although Mr. Stahl was born in Germany, he's lived most of his life in the United States. After studying at both Harvard University for undergrad and Georgetown University for law school, he worked in New York and Boston before coming down south to Atlanta.  Mr. Stahl has almost 30 years of experience practicing law and currently represents over 140 European (including Swedish) companies in their engagement with the U.S. Mr. Stahl has been with Arnall Golden Gregory for about 12 years. He frequently participates in panels in both Europe and the United States. When speaking of his career, it is clear that Mr. Stahl thoroughly enjoys what he does.

    “Keeping international clients from harm in the United States is kind of my bread and butter”

     

    Mr. Stahl’s unique selling points

    With his international background, Tycho is able to provide his clients with a unique perspective on their cases. Mr. Stahl has the unique ability to merge European thinking and American thinking, which enables him to better provide for his clients and his firm.

    “I feel like I have a lot of empathy and understanding for how things work in Europe… but I also have a lot of empathy for this country [the United States] as well, so I can really help European companies navigate the U.S.”

     

    Being a Member of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce- Georgia

    “International means several things for us”

    Arnall Golden Gregory strives to provide services in many ways in international areas. This is seen in the company’s efforts to turn Atlanta into an international hub for arbitration, the representation of those who wish to acquire assets in the United States, immigration practices, and international commerce services. Tycho’s frequent traveling abroad has given him a great deal of experience in the international arena. His experience in the international field gives him a connection to the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. As for why Mr. Stahl continues to cherish his time with SACC-GA, it’s pretty simple:

    “I really like the people in SACC GA and I really like the events”

    His frequent travels to Sweden forged a connection between himself and the Swedish people - he thoroughly enjoys getting to know his Swedish clients and learning their culture. 

     

    Atlanta is a great place for business

    Mr. Stahl describes Atlanta as being an “awesome place for business” for several reasons.

    1) There is a large infrastructure of service providers that are experts at welcoming foreign business in the United States. These service providers ease the transition into the US.

    2) There is a highly educated workforce that enjoys working for foreign companies.

    3) It’s a good location. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, widely regarded as the busiest and most convenient airport in the US, is located in Atlanta. The city is a great logistical hub, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a relatively affordable place to live.


  • 1 Jul 2021 2:57 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    Click the links below in order to read more about the latest press release concerning the SACC USA 2021 Business Survey. 

    SACC Georgia Press Release.docx

    SACC USA Business Survey RESULTS no 2 2021 FINAL.pdf


  • 28 Jun 2021 11:54 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)


    We recently had the opportunity to interview two recruiting professionals in our network and explore their tips for recent graduates who are searching for jobs. Through exclusive interviews, we are able to share Bernard van der Lande and Dan Erling’s best advice for those on the job hunt. 


    Dan Erling

    • Mr. Erling discusses how important it is to understand the culture of a company when considering what to wear to a job interview. It is important to do research on the company beforehand to ascertain the culture of the company. If you have no information about the company, it is recommended that a jacket and a button up shirt be worn and for women a business blouse. Being more formal is better than being underdressed. 

    • After an interview, Mr. Erling states that it is important to follow up with a thank you email. It makes a huge difference. 

    • Never make an interview about yourself. Strive to understand how you can bring value to the company and focus on that. Discussing how you can bring value to a company through your own experience is a great way to stand out in an interview. 


    Bernard van der Lande

    • The best way to network is to be proactive about it. You can reach out to people on social media and start conversations about their posts or achievements. LinkedIn is a great place to do that. You have to make the first move to make an impression. 

    • To stand out in an interview, you have to show that you are enthusiastic to be there. People do not want to hire someone who looks unenthusiastic. Showing you are happy to be there and enthusiastic about your work is the best way to impress your interviewer.


  • 28 Jun 2021 3:26 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Niklas Karlsson and Nicolas Correa to talk about Woodable, their sustainable wooden cutlery business. Correa, who has a background working for a well known company in Chile, now manages all marketing and sales of wooden products from the Fosforos group. Karlsson, a SACC GA Board Member, is the distributor for Woodable here in the U.S. Woodable’s utensils are produced the same way the company has been making wooden products for decades. Their cutlery is truly sustainable and, in an effort to battle deforestation, they plant 4 trees for every 3 trees harvested. Read on for more background and a glimpse into the future of this exciting company that became a bestseller on Amazon just months after launching.

    Background

    The company has Swedish origins as the factory was owned by Swedish Match up until the 1990s when it was sold to two employees who currently run it. There is still a great working relationship with Swedish Match - in fact, the machines for the manufacturing of the matches line are still in working order and are still in use today! Correa maintains that the company has “a Swedish heart”. After the sale of the company and as demand for matches declined, more products were added. Most recently, a line of eco-friendly wooden cutlery was added. They have a diversified range of products and their customers range from large retailers to small restaurants. In addition to matches and wooden cutlery, Fosfora group produces other wooden products such as coffee stirrers, popsicle sticks and paint sticks. The company recently invested in a new factory where the Woodable cutlery will be produced. The capacity will depend on the demand, but it will still be the largest wooden cutlery factory in the world. The company has more than 8,000 acres of forested land at the foot of the Andes Mountains and uses run-off water from the mountains for irrigation. Correa emphasizes that the firm’s ambition is to be sustainable and they replant more trees than they cut.

    “Our goal is to be seen as being on the forefront of being an eco-friendly business”.

    Quality Products

    Woodable engaged early with a marketing firm in the US to help visualize the brand - a superior product with a strong moral compass. Everything from the design of the website to the packaging of the product communicates to the consumer that Woodable sells an eco-friendly and high quality product. Innovative packaging allows for shipments without extra wrapping, and the cutlery can be displayed directly in the box. Inside the flap of the box is a note of gratitude to the consumer along with a short brand story. As sustainability is a key ideology of the firm, the packaging is also sustainable.

    “The Woodable fork is able to lift a full chicken or roast, and the Woodable knife is able to cut a steak.”

    Sustainability and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification

    Woodable is the only wooden cutlery manufacturer outside of China. The Chilean factory uses wood from a sustainable forest at the foot of the Andes mountains, and Karlsson emphasizes how important this is.

    “Timber is expensive to ship and it makes sense to have a factory nearby and you know where the wood comes from. Woodable has their own FCS (Forest Stewardship Council) certified forests.”

    Unlike plastic, wooden cutlery is compostable and turns into soil in as little as 90 days. Plastic can be recycled, but only about 8% of plastics are properly done so.

    Connection to Sweden

    Woodable is a SACC GA sponsor and their US distribution partner, Niklas Karlsson, is a SACC GA board member. Correa says it is a perfect partnership.

    “Our partnership with Niklas makes perfect sense as our company was originally Swedish Match and the heart of our company is still Swedish.”

    Woodable sponsored our recent Sweden Day 2021 celebration and provided the cutlery used at the event. The partnership was fitting as Sweden is frequently named as one of the leading countries for sustainability. Correa hopes to join us here in Atlanta for our Swedish National Day celebration next year!


  • 17 Jun 2021 9:46 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We are super excited to present a new addition to our series, Board Member Spotlight. This is a way for you to get to know SACC GA's board members in a video format.

    Tycho Stahl is a partner and co-chair of the global commerce practice at Arnell Golden Gregory, and has been involved as a SACC GA board member for several years. He works with foreign companies that invest in the United States.
    Enjoy!


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ABOUT SACC-GEORGIA

The primary objective of SACC-Georgia is to promote an exchange of business, trade, investment, technology and culture between Sweden and the state of Georgia. SACC-Georgia is one of 19 regional chambers across the United States, cooperating under the umbrella of SACC-USA based in Washington, D.C.

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