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Alabama Germany Partnership Marks 25 Years of Advancing ‘Special Relationship’

PRATTVILLE, Alabama — The Alabama Germany Partnership (AGP) marked a milestone Thursday night with an event that celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding and recognized German companies that are growing in the state with new investments.

The AGP, a non-profit member-based organization established in 1998, is dedicated to strengthening the economic and cultural ties between Alabama and a European nation with a large-scale business presence in the state.

“Alabama and Germany have developed a special relationship over the decades,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “During that time, numerous German companies have launched growth plans in Alabama, bringing benefits that enrich these communities, both economically and culturally.”

Thursday’s anniversary event took place at The Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Prattville, with Michael Göbel, president & CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, serving as keynote speaker. Other presenters included Melanie Moltmann, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Southeast of the United States.

Around 300 industrial, cultural, educational and governmental leaders attended.

During the meeting, the AGP recognized seven German companies for investments valued at almost $200 million in Alabama through growth projects announced in 2022, according to Commerce data.

The companies are ADS-Tec Energy Inc. (Auburn), Eissmann Automotive (Pell City), Evonik Corp. (Birmingham and Theodore), MBN Automotive (Birmingham), STAR Cooperation USA (Vance) and Winkelmann Flowform Technology L.P. (Auburn).

In addition, the AGP presented Ted vonCannon, a long-time economic developer based in Birmingham, with its Rainer Bauer Award. The honor was established in 2001 to recognize individuals for outstanding accomplishments, dedicated service and loyal friendship to the AGP, both in Alabama and in Germany.

VonCannon was instrumental in the AGP’s formation and played a key role in the recruitment of Mercedes to Alabama in 1993.

The group also presented its Dr. Barbara Fischer Education Award to Lisa Keyes, executive director with Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International. Tuscaloosa, home to a Mercedes assembly plant, has a long-standing sister city relation with Schorndorf, Germany, the birthplace of Gottlieb Daimler.


The business ties between Germany and Alabama date back decades and have only grown stronger in recent years.

More than 80 German companies have operations in Alabama, and the state opened a business development office in Stuttgart in 2019.

German companies have invested over $10 billion in the state since 1999, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce. These projects have created around 18,500 direct jobs.

When the AGP was established, its leadership, comprised primarily of economic developers, recognized that attention to cultural and educational interests — and not just to business issues — would better prepare Alabama for additional German investment.

“The AGP’s mission has remained consistent over the last 25 years, and its leadership — through both individuals and companies — has remained intact,” said Brian Hilson, the group’s immediate past chairman. “The organization’s events and programs bring together people who share the same interest in growing and benefitting from the Alabama-Germany relationship.

“As German business investment in Alabama has grown, so too has the Alabama Germany Partnership, and the presence of Germans who feel at home in Alabama,” he added.


Kirk Atkinson, president of Birmingham-based Adah International and the AGP’s chair, said the organization has benefited his career and many others like him.

“I started out as a member of the AGP as a young professional, which led me to living and working in Germany for several years,” Atkinson said. “After returning home to Alabama, I’ve applied the AGP network and services to advance my career, especially as an international entrepreneur. Now, as chairman, I want to inspire and support other Alabamians to pursue careers in international industry.”

AGP Executive Director Tine Hoffmeister said the organization has 125 members and many supporters. To advance its goals, the group sponsors business seminars, networking events and German cultural events and dinners, along with other activities including a five-day study trip to Germany.

Another important role for the AGP is promoting the growth and success of German businesses in Alabama and highlighting employment, internship and apprenticeship opportunities at these companies.

The AGP recently announced a new scholarship and educational fund program. Students and teachers of German as a second language can apply for scholarships for Study Abroad in Germany, expenses for German events and tours of German companies in Alabama. The program is expected to launch this spring.

“For an organization like ours, it’s of great importance to get younger generations involved in the mission of the AGP and get them connected to our German companies in the state,” Hoffmeister said.

Source : Made In Alabama