The Consular Corps of Michigan — which represents countries including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and Turkey — will establish an office within Oakland’s County’s executive office building in Waterford Township.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says the organization will help boost trade and attract development among global markets. “Think of it as our own in-house hedge fund,” Patterson says. “The more the world hears about Oakland County, the more it will bring jobs and dollars to our 910 square miles. Having the Consular Corps inside our building will give us first crack at attracting foreign investment.”
An honorary consul general, who serves as a representative who speaks on behalf of a given country, helps facilitate trade and friendship between the respective nations. John Rakolta Jr., chairman of Detroit-based Walbridge, is honorary consul general of Romania, Ralph Gerson, board member and senior adviser of Auburn Hills-based Guardian Industries Corp., is honorary consul of Luxembourg, while Yousif Ghafari, chairman of Dearborn-based Ghafari, is honorary consul of Slovenia.
The consul generals also provide assistance with bureaucratic issues for citizens who are living or traveling abroad as well as those who live in the city in which the consul resides in. They also help citizens of the country the consul resides in who wish to travel to or trade with the consul’s country.
Under the agreement, the Consular Corps is being provided with furnished office space. The corps is responsible for providing its own electronic equipment including computers and telephones. The one-year agreement will be automatically renewed unless terminated by either side.
Oakland County is currently home to 982 international firms from 38 countries, Patterson says.