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Southeast’s Fifth Forum for German Small & Medium Sized Enterprises

Monday, April 3, 2017 | The Chattanoogan Hotel | Chattanooga, TN

We are happy to announce that our fifth “German Mittelstand - Southern SME Forum” will be held on April 3, 2017, at The Chattanoogan Hotel in Chattanooga, TN. This business-specific event offers a platform to exchange ideas while building relationships with new business partners, and offers the opportunity to gain insights on innovative business practices, in order to successfully strengthen your presence within the U.S. market.

The all-day business conference will feature engaging keynote speakers followed by informative workshops, panel discussions, and plentiful networking opportunities. Alongside the German Mittelstand - Southern SME Forum, the 2017 GACC South Board of Directors will be elected as part of our Annual General Meeting.

Register Now!

Conference + Evening Reception



Evening Reception Only



Annual General Meeting Only

Must be member in good standing, no admission fee if attending AGM only!

(Free admission)


Disclaimer: For cancellations received up to 14 days prior to the event date, 50% of the event fee can be refunded. For cancellations received at any later time, no refund will be provided. Registrations are transferable. Attendance is possible only after payment is received.

Take a look at 2017's Agenda

as of 3/29/2017

Download Agenda SSMEF 2017

Monday, April 3

7:30am     Registration

8:00am     Breakfast with Keynote (Ballroom 1 & 2)

  • Bob Rolfe, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

9:15am     Workshop Sessions I

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses (Rose)
Today’s world is more interconnected than ever before. But increased connectivity also brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. This workshop aims to address important issues in cyber security and the protection of information systems and network infrastructure

  • Ralph A Pasquariello CLCS, Cyber / Data / Network Liability Specialist, Snelling Walters Insurance Brokers

Innovation Through Collaboration - Leveraging University Partnerships (Amphitheater)
Companies increasingly recognize that successful innovation requires talent and skills beyond internal R&D and in consequence external partners to fill this gap are sought after. Universities are a prime partner for such innovation projects, since they provide access to an enormous global pool of talent and skills as well as cutting-edge research.

  • Dr. Sebastian Pokutta, Associate Director of the Center for Machine Learning and Associate Professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Learning from Startups: Innovative Concepts for Established Companies (Walker)
Klöckner‘s objective is to fully digitize the supply and service chain. By founding of its internal startup, kloeckner.i, the company entered the process of revolutionizing the unprofitable business models currently used in the steel trade. They bundle all digitization-oriented projects and initiatives at the core of the startup scene in Berlin. kloeckner.i controls the development and international implementation of all digital solutions and uses Silicon Valley concepts such as “Design Thinking” and “Lean Startup”.

  • Tim Milde, Managing Director, kloeckner.i GmbH

10:30am   Coffee Break

11:00am   Workshop Sessions II

  • Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
  • Innovation Through Collaboration - Leveraging University Partnerships
  • Startups in the Southern US: A success story

12:30pm   Luncheon with Keynote: The new era for U.S.- German Relations (Ballroom 1 & 2)

  • Daniel Andrich, President & CEO of the Representative of German Industry & Trade

2:00pm     Panel Discussion: Trends and Challenges for a 21st Century Workforce (Ballroom 3 & 4)

Studies are predicting that by the end of this year, there will be 25 billion connected devices, a number that is believed to increase to 50 billion by 2020. This automation of processes has created a work environment that is subject to more frequent and faster changes than ever before. Preparing students to succeed in this rapidly changing society and economy has become a challenge. International experts will discuss successful education models and how to train a workforce to keep up with this fast pace environment, while highlighting the differences between the German and the American approach.

  • Moderator: Stefanie Jehlitschka, President & CEO, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc.
  • Hannes Barske, Senior Scientific Officer, DLR Project Management Agency
  • Ramona Neuse, Project Manager VETnet, DIHK Service GmbH
  • Martin Pleyer, Chief Operating Office, Genzebach Corporation
  • Nicole Koesling, Executive Vice President Human Resources, Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga

3:30pm     Coffee Break

4:00pm     Annual General Meeting (for Members in good standing only) (Ballroom 3 & 4)
                Election of Board of Directors & State of the Chamber Report

6:00pm     Evening Reception at The Coker Tire Museum

                Address: 1317 Chestnut St · Chattanooga, TN 37402

                (5 min. walk from The Chattanoogan Hotel)

                *13th Street Entrance (between Chestnut and Fort Street)

Tuesday, April 4

                Facility Tours: 

  • For registered participants only 
  • Transportation is NOT provided 
  • Participants should arrive 10 minutes prior to the tour. Tours will begin promptly at the scheduled time


10:00 am  Wacker Polysilicon North America LLC, Factory Tour
Address: 553 Wacker Blvd, Charleston, TN 37310 Building
                (D112) Parking Lot (Blue D) 


  • From I-75 take Exit 33 and go East (turn right) onto Lauderdale Highway
  • Continue east to the second stop light
  • Turn left at the traffic light onto WACKER Blvd
  • Continue approximately ½ mile to the WACKER Main Entrance on the left
  • Entrance to the D112 Parking area is to the left at Gate 5
  • Enter here and proceed to the Guard House, which is the first building you will see 
  • You will receive a security badge and be directed to the visitors parking lot 
  • Go to the office building located directly across the street from the parking lot


Guidelines: No photography permitted

11:30 am  Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operation,
                LLC, Factory Tour
               Address: 8001 Volkswagen Drive Chattanooga, TN 37416


  • Park in the Visitor’s Parking Lot and proceed to the Conference Center. There are 5 very high flag poles in front of the conference center. Parking is next to it
  • When you enter, please inform the security guard that you are visiting the plant for a tour schedule for the German American Chamber of Commerce
  • They will create a visitor’s badge for you. The tour guide will meet you there to escort you into the plant 


  • Cameras and Camera Phones are not permitted. Cell phones MUST BE TURNED OFF during the tour
  • Solid shoes must be worn. No flip flops, high heels or open toes shoes
  • Long pants must be worn. No shorts, dresses or skirts






This year's Southern SME Forum will be held at
The Chattanoogan Hotel in Chattanooga, TN
on Monday, April 3, 2017

The GACC South has negotiated a Special Room Rate at The Chattanoogan Hotel in the amount of $160 for conference attendees, if you book by March 9, 2017. To redeem this rate, book your room through the GACC Guest Website or call the Hotel at 1-800-619-0018 and mention our Reference Group ID: 583203.

The Chattanoogan

1201 Broad St.
Chattanooga, TN 37402

Phone: (423) 756-3400

Phone: (704) 377-0400
Concierge: EXT. 1778

Event App

Download the Event App!

  1. Download the Guidebook application on your smartphone
  2. Use the scanner to scan the QR code above OR enter the passphrase “gaccsouth”
  3. Download the Southern SME Forum Guide
  4. Enjoy!



Rafaela Hadba

Manager, Events

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2016 Attendee Overview

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View pictures from 2016's conference