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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 1/5/2017

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

  • Presenter: tbd

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.

  • Sebastian Pokutta, Associate Director of the Center for Machine Learning, GaTech

The Benefits and Costs of Apprenticeships: A Business Perspective
Apprenticeships seems the way to go for many companies to create their own skilled workforce. The biggest investment in apprenticeship programs, however, is made by businesses themselves. Yet surprisingly little is known about the payoff to businesses from these investments. What motivated them to create apprenticeships? What are the costs and benefits?

  • Martin Pleyer, Chief Operation Officer, Grenzebach Corporation
  • Sebastian Patta, Representative of Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC (tbc)

10:30am   Coffee Break

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

  • Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
  • Innovation through collaboration - leveraging university partnerships
  • The Benefits and Costs of Apprenticeships: A Business Perspective

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: Startups meet Grownups
Emerging startups from all over the world are interested in getting access to decision-makers from established industries. "Grown-up" companies, whether big or small, consider opportunities for cooperation with innovative business models, to always be the critical step ahead.

  • Moderator: tbd
  • Thomas Felis, Vice President Innovation, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas (tbc)
  • Dr. Hendrik Witt, Chief Executive Officer, Ubimax GmbH (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 in the amount of $160 for conference attendees, valid until March 2, 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

Coordinator, Events

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2016 Attendee Overview

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View pictures from 2016's conference