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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 2/9/2017

Download Agenda SSMEF 2017

Monday, April 3

7:30am     Registration

8:00am     Breakfast with Keynote 

  • The Honorable Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee (tbc)

9:15am     Workshop Sessions I (please choose one)

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
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

Innovation through collaboration - leveraging university partnerships 
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, GaTech

Learning from Startups: Innovative Concepts for Established Companies
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

10:30am   Coffee Break

11:00am   Workshop Sessions II (please choose one)

  • 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

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

1:30pm     Dessert

2:00pm     Panel Discussion: Trends and Challenges for a 21st Century Workforce

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, Vice President, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S.
  • Ramona Neuse, Head of VETnet, DIHK Service GmbH (tbc)
  • Martin Pleyer, Chief Operating Office, Genzebach Corporation
  • Dr. Henk van Liempt, Head of International Cooperation in Education, Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • Representative of Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC (tbc)

3:30pm     Coffee Break

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

6:00pm     Evening Reception at The Coker Tire Museum

                Announcement of Board of Directors' election results

Tuesday, April 4

10:00am    Facility Tours (please choose one)

                Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga
                Operation, LLC, Academy Tour
                Wacker Polysilicon North America LLC, Factory Tour 




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



Rafaela Hadba

Manager, Events

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2016 Attendee Overview

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View pictures from 2016's conference