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European-American Topics - French Community - FACC

Une Soirée Franco-Américaine
By Erika Wilson
Contributing writer
Posted April 8, 2007


The Pacific Northwest chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACCPNW) held its annual members’ meeting on April 3, 2007, at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Seattle. Of nineteen regional affiliates across the United States, the Northwest chapter of the FACC is one of the most active, according to John Walsh, the chapter’s Executive Vice President. Walsh noted that FACCPNW is currently focusing on trade relationships in the aerospace industry, as well as in viticulture and biotechnology—relatively recent arrivals on the Northwest business scene that are becoming key players in the regional and global economy. (When it comes to wine, France and the Northwest are natural partners: Oregon’s Willamette Valley boasts world-class pinot noir, and Rhone-style viognier now hails from Walla Walla.) With contacts in the industrial, government, and cultural sectors of both countries, the FACC—which has a counterpart in France—is well-positioned to bring these internationally-minded business partners together. “Our primary focus is trade service,” said Walsh.

Founded in 1986, the Northwest chapter of the FACC embraces a twofold mission: to promote the French-American business community in the Pacific Northwest region, and to facilitate the development of trade relations between French and American companies. The FACC helps companies and individuals to expand their international focus by connecting French and American business contacts and enhancing trade relationships through networking, cultural events, seminars, and support services such as travel and visa coordination. François Ladsous, Deputy Director and Trade Attaché of the FACCPNW, assists Executive Director Jack Cowan with market research, trade fairs, and hosting international delegations. Ladsous summarized the organization’s primary purpose as “promoting the exchange of goods, services, cultures, and people, and assisting with business plan development.”

The FACCPNW also features a strong educational component. Each year, French and American students and young professionals intern with the organization. The interns assist with all aspects of the organization and also develop special projects. A wonderful example of an intern-led initiative is “A l’Ecole” (or “France in a Suitcase”), an interactive cultural program that (literally) brings a taste of France to elementary school students in the Puget Sound area. Sophie Lavandier, an intern from Paris and one of the creators of the program, said with a smile that one of the goals of “A l’Ecole” is “to create a whole bunch of little Francophiles.” To that end, FACCPNW volunteers visit third and fourth grade classes and take the students on an interactive “trip” to France. The children learn fun facts and French phrases—and everyone says oui to a delicious croissant at the end of the lesson. “A l’Ecole” is available to area schools at no cost; teachers and those who wish to volunteer or donate to the program are encouraged to contact the FACCPNW for more information.

The 2007 members’ meeting of the FACCPNW began with an informal wine reception, followed by a business meeting and dinner. President William King gave a brief talk about the accomplishments of the last year, as well as future goals of the chapter. Highlights of 2006 were a visit by French winemakers to the Northwest to learn about local producers and distributors, a conference on mergers and acquisitions in the aerospace industry, a visit by French Ambassador to the United States Jean-David Lavitte, and participation in the Governor’s Life Science Summit. In the future, the chapter will continue its focus on effective governance, increased networking opportunities, and active participation by the Board and chapter members. The business meeting was followed by a word of thanks from Air France for the FACCPNW’s assistance in implementing a new daily nonstop flight from Seattle to Paris—a welcome development for the many frequent fliers in the room, and a fine example of the positive contributions made by the chapter to French-American business relations in the Seattle area. The centerpiece of the evening was the keynote address by Marc Onetto, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations at Onetto emphasized Amazon’s customer service focus, and discussed the globalization initiatives his company is undertaking to serve a growing international market in Europe and Asia.

The FACCPNW may mean business, but it is far from being all work and no play. Chapter members also enjoy a series of social and cultural events that provide a forum for French speakers and Francophiles to meet one another and share their cultural heritage. Highlights of the FACCPNW events calendar include a gala auction held in November to celebrate the year’s release of Beaujolais Nouveau wine, and the Seattle Center Bastille Day festival in July. Business card exchanges and members’ meetings are also an excellent opportunity for attendees to socialize, with French as the language of choice in many of the conversations. Membership in the chapter is open to individuals and businesses who have an interest in France and international commerce. For more information, visit or contact the FACCPNW at (206) 443-4703.



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