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Posted: March 22, 2014 10:00 p.m.

International leaders tour Covington

Newton County leaders showed off Covington to a group of diplomats from 26 countries, praising the county’s filming and economic development successes and hoping to make future connections with more international companies.

The state’s annual three-day International VIP Tour started off Wednesday with breakfast at the Mystic Grill restaurant, where the diplomats got to hear from Hunter Hall, president of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, and Lee Thomas, division director of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, who talked about the numerous movies and TV shows that have and are being filmed in Georgia.

Jose Alberto Flores Velasco, consul general of Argentina’s consulate in Atlanta, said he grew up watching The Dukes of Hazzard and said visiting Covington was “like being in place you grew up with.” He said it’s amazing how much revenue is produced from filming and said he’s seen a similar phenomenon in some small Argentinian towns where filming was a huge boon.

Steve Brereton, the consul general for Canada, said his first impression of Covington was fabulous because of the wonderful hospitality. He said it’s important for foreign leaders to see firsthand the tremendous assets that are here and said these tours help build partnerships, as they is a lot of filming talent in Canada working on productions.

Bob Muscat, honorary consul of Malta, said his country has developed a program that reserves money specifically for American companies to provide training to Malta film workers. He asked how a partnership could be developed with Georgia, and leaders promised to talk to him in more specific detail after the presentation.

Finally, Paul Gleeson, consul general for Ireland, said these type of visits allow he and others to be able to direct business leaders from their countries to success communities when they come to visit to Atlanta.

After talking about filming, the international leaders toured SKC, a South Korean-based company that employs 320 people at its Covington plant, which produces a variety of polyester film products, chemical products for foam insulation and film used to coat solar panels.

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