New Czech consul aims to boost investment and prepares for ambassador’s visit

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Monika Vitrlikova

As his first major outreach act as an Honorary Consul, Monika Vitrlikova has a formidable task: to welcome the ambassador to the Czech Republic To Atlanta in the midst of a pandemic the week before Thanksgiving.

But the businesswoman took to the job, hoping to raise the profile of the Czech business community and deepen the strong economic ties carefully cultivated by her predecessor.

Ms. Vitrlikova took up the post of Georges novak, the dynamic 88-year-old man whose life was cut short by cancer before he could complete his succession plan. He died in June; after that, COVID-19 suspended most public activities.

Mr Novak had recommended Ms Vintrlikova for the post, but was to spend a year orienting her to the role of honorary consul. These diplomats officially and (more or less) permanently represent the country in a state or region where they have settled. They make up the bulk of the more than 70 countries represented in Atlanta.

It is not that Mrs Vitrlikova had not had any preparation. A compatriot from the state of South Moravia, she had already learned a lot from watching Mr. Novak, who was universally appreciated and tirelessly active on behalf of the Central European nation of over 10 million people.

He was easygoing but also lucid, exerting his energy on impactful but achievable projects, she said. Atlanta Global in an interview.

“I think George’s main lesson is to keep your eyes open and try to match the right networks to each other,” Ms. Vitrlikova said.

Jan Vitrlik, President of ALBAform Inc .; Vice President and now Honorary Consul Monika Vitrlikova pictured with her predecessor George Novak, right, at the ALBAform factory in 2017.

This was especially true in business, an area where Mr Novak was particularly experienced and where Ms Vitrlikova said many Czech companies needed help. Some believe that sales in the US market will be easy due to its size, not appreciating the patience required, she said.

“(George) was very open and friendly, but very realistic about what it takes to come to Georgia as a Czech company and do business here,” she told Global Atlanta. “His experience has shown that it’s not just about coming here, starting the business and getting a phone number. It requires investment and personal involvement.

Mrs Vintrlikova knows this firsthand. The daughter of the founder of ALBAform Inc., supplier of tailor-made yarn for the automotive industry, she took the plunge after a business school in Brno, (Mr. Novak’s hometown – she had grown up only 60 kilometers Breclav).

When the business is mainly German as customers began to expand into the United States, they looked for suppliers with certifications that most American companies lacked. Sensing an opportunity, Mrs. Vitrlikova and her husband, Jan Vitrlik, who serves as the company’s president, has decided to take the plunge.

Leaving her sister’s family in charge of Czech operations, they moved their two children to Georgia to be in the middle of the growing South East automotive cluster.

“We were one of the companies that said yes. The growth has been very gradual, ”she said, noting that they started with a small machine and Czech employees came to train the locals. “We started with a few small projects. Today, after seven years of production here in Georgia, we employ 120 local staff and are totally dependent on the American workforce.

M / s. Vitrlikova hopes to be a guide for other Czech companies by following the example of ALBAform and SILON, which put a $ 20 million factory in Fishing town in 2017.

The objective is to strengthen economic diplomacy at a time of recovery when companies will be looking for new sources of growth.

So far, however, its work has been more prosaic – processing passport renewal applications and other documents that tend to characterize diplomatic work, with the level of activity intensified by the pandemic. Although she lives far north of Atlanta, Ms. Vitrlikova has an office in Sand sources that she visits every Wednesday to conduct business in person. Many Czechs who had given up their citizenship after moving to the United States, she said, now realize the value of holding a EU passport with travel restrictions in place

Then, of course, there is the Ambassador’s visit scheduled for November 19-20.

Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček, photo by Jiří Skupien

Hynek Kmoníček will travel through Atlanta for two days to officially install Ms. Vitrlikova as Honorary Consul and commemorate Mr. Novak. He will be fresh out of a trip to New Orleans, where it will host a meeting of the 24 Honorary Consuls representing the Czech Republic in the United States.

Work with the Embassy in Washington and three career consulates in New-York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Honorary Consuls have been an integral part of the Czech Republic’s diplomatic action in the United States, said ZdenÄ›k Beránek, Deputy Head of Mission at the Czech Embassy.

Some of them are motivated by affection for their ancient country or one of their ancestors. Some of them just admire the Czech Republic. What they all have in common is that without them our job would be much more difficult, ”Beránek told Global Atlanta.

Ms Vitrlikova has “big shoes to fill” to replace Mr Novak, he said.

“There is hardly anyone in the Czech Republic doing business with the United States who has never heard of George,” Beránek said.

But the embassy is convinced that it is up to the task. Honorary consuls are often the backbone of economic exchanges, putting entrepreneurs in contact with organizations like CzechTrade and CzechInvest and helping them take advantage of a manufacturing and exporting economy. This role is suitable for the new honorary consul, he said.

“As for Monika, there is absolutely no doubt that she will be a great honorary consul,” Beranek said, noting that his country recognizes the importance of also promoting Atlanta and Georgia and fostering cultural and educational exchanges. .

Mr. Novak has orchestrated trade missions from Atlanta and exchanges between Georgia Tech and the VUT Brno in the past. He and Ms. Vitrlikova were steadfast supporters of the Atlanta Czech School.

I want to bring interesting exhibitions and people, because South Moravia is such a region rich in traditions and folklore, ”she said, noting other similarities between Georgia and her home state.

FinTech is important in both places when it comes to business. And then of course, the Georgians and the Moravians of the South being southerners – conservative people, proud and very sincere. “

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