January | 2021
New Year Greetings from AGP Chair
Despite the impact of the pandemic that continues to be felt throughout the world, the Alabama Germany Partnership can reflect back on 2020 as another successful year, and look ahead to 2021 with great optimism. Last year, as Covid-19 forced all of us to live and work differently, the AGP reacted swiftly and positively to adjust our programs, in order to continue them for the benefit of our members. The strong attendance and participation in our many activities is yet another indication of the importance of the Alabama-Germany relationship, and the work of the AGP.
AGP Chair Brian Hilson
We were fortunate to host the AGP’s 22nd Annual Celebration Dinner at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center—just before the full impact of Covid restrictions. The dinner was the perfect setting to recognize the many announced investments and jobs created in Alabama by German companies last year. We also conducted the AGP Business Forum at the Hudson Alpha Institute. Later in the year, as so many meetings and events went virtual, the AGP remained active, hosting an average of two webinars per month. Some of the webinars and other activities from last year included:

  • A Conversation with German Consul General Dr. Heike Fuller
  • A Conversation with Christoph Doerr, the Alabama Department of Commerce European Office Director
  • Young Professionals Virtual Meetings with MBUSI and Innovation Depot
  • Celebration of Beethoven’s 250th Birthday
  • Creation of an AGP Covid-19 Resources Page
  • Support of German Expats returning to Germany, and Alabama’s German Teachers
  • “Let’s Talk German Wine” Event
Much of the tremendous success of the AGP in both 2019 and 2020 is attributable to the outstanding leadership of our immediate past chair, Bobby Ingram. Bobby’s vision and steadfast leadership, especially during a pandemic, are major reasons the AGP continued to grow and meet our goals. We’ll soon have a more formal (but still virtual) opportunity to thank Bobby for all he has done!

Another key leader in the Alabama-Germany relationship is our outstanding Honorary Consul General, Michael Johnson. I can’t imagine any state having stronger leadership and connectivity to its German Embassy and Consulate than Alabama has through Michael.

The day-to-day leadership of our outstanding Executive Director, Tine Hoffmeister, is also key to our success. Any of you who have worked with Tine know that her attention to detail helps ensure success in everything the AGP does, and like Bobby, Michael, and many others, her resilient leadership during the pandemic has been exemplary.  

I thank everyone for your contributions to the AGP, with special thanks to Bobby, Michael, and Tine!

Looking ahead to 2021, and as we continue to navigate Covid safety concerns and restrictions, the Annual Dinner is tentatively scheduled for May at Regions Field in Birmingham, and the annual delegation trip to Germany is scheduled for June. In the meantime, our other activities will continue as webinars and virtual events for as long as necessary. Throughout the year, information on all of the AGP’s programs will be updated and sent to you as soon as it is available.

It is my honor to serve as chair of the Alabama Germany Partnership in 2021. Having grown up in Huntsville, where I was fortunate to live among many German friends and neighbors who were members of the original von Braun team of space scientists and engineers, I developed a fascination for Germany and its people at an early age, and I’m proud to say that my fascination is as strong today as it was then. I have been involved in the AGP since its inception in 1998, and like you, I believe in the mission of this great organization, as we work together to advance our economic, educational, and cultural interests.   

Years ago my German friend Dr. Walter Wiesman advised “If your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt!” Well, the work of the AGP may have been interrupted by the pandemic, but it hasn’t been compromised. I’m looking forward to working with you in 2021, as we build on our successes and continue to advance the incredible Alabama-Germany relationship!

Sincerely / Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Brian Hilson
2021 Chair
Alabama Germany Partnership 

AGP Membership 2021

2021 AGP Membership Renewal Now Open

Thank you for your support as an AlabamaGermany Partnership (AGP) member in 2020! It is so appreciated especially in times like this.
This past year may have thrown us a few curveballs that have affected many of us. It has been unsettling times, to say the least, but we’re still proud of everything we were able to accomplish. Our new chair Brian Hilson listed some of our highlights in his message above.
Membership renewals have been sent out and we hope you will renew your membership or become a new member TODAY! Your support will help us deliver new programming and support our ability to connect businesses, organizations, governments, and individuals. Didn’t get your renewal? Email us at director@alabamagermany.org or use the link below to renew.

We are looking forward to a better 2021 with y’all! 

Dankeschön to our PATRON Members:
AGP A Conversation with Don Erwin
Join us for a conversation with Don Erwin. He has a long career in Economic Development in Alabama and published his first novel "Buffalo Hunting in Alabama" in October 2020. Don also served as a charter board member and past chair of AlabamaGermany Partnership. We will talk about it all on:

Thursday, January 7, 2021
12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. CST
Zoom Webinar

About the book
“How far will states and communities go to attract mega-projects that offer thousands of good jobs and tens of millions in tax revenue? Ezra Drake finds out when he’s recruited to help Alabama lure a giant pharmaceutical plant. Years ago, Ezra left Alabama for the Ivy League and a job in Germany. He’s now a fast-riser on Wall Street. A turn of events puts him back in Alabama as part of an elite team that lures mega-projects to energize the economy. Mercedes-Benz, Airbus, and other mega-projects had transformed the state. Alabama wants more. Call it buffalo-hunting or smokestack-chasing, Ezra’s team understands it’s all about recruiting talent and companies to successfully compete in the modern economy. Instead of firearms, Ezra’s team hunts with Big Data and persuasion. Competing against other cities and states is tough, but Ezra finds it even tougher battling forces who want to keep Alabama as it is and was, and not what it might become. Will Ezra and Alabama succeed in winning the pharma mega-project? Will Ezra find success and happiness in Alabama?”

Germany’s Heiche Choose Alabama for Manufacturing Facility
By MadeinAlabama.com
Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Germany-based Heiche Surface Technologies plans a substantial investment to open an advanced metals coating facility in Jasper, creating at least 73 jobs and expanding Walker County’s footprint in Alabama’s auto industry.

Heiche, whose customers include automakers and suppliers, will locate its manufacturing operation to a more than 100,000-square-foot speculative building in the Jasper Industrial Park, just two miles away from Interstate 22.

“Alabama’s automotive industry continues to spark economic growth throughout many parts of the state, and that robust growth is transforming Jasper into a hub for international automotive suppliers,” Governor Ivey said. Heiche is a welcome addition to the automotive supply chain emerging in the Walker County city and all across Sweet Home Alabama.”

Mercedes-Benz Plant to Begin Building Electric Cars in 2022
By AL.com
Mercedes-Benz has announced that its Tuscaloosa County plant will begin producing electric SUVs in 2022.

The plant, which has been in preparation for the move for the past three years, will produce the EQE SUV and EQS SUV on the same line as SUVs with conventional and plug-in hybrid drives.

In an announcement from Germany, the company said it will launch six electric versions of its vehicles in 2022, to be manufactured at plants in Germany, Hungary, and the U.S., with batteries also made at the company’s Bibb County battery plant, as well as in Germany, Poland, and China.

Dankeschön to our SUSTAINING Members:
Airbus Delivers 200th A320-Family Jetliner Assembled in Alabama
By AL.com
Airbus announced Friday that it had delivered the 200th A320-family jetliner assembled in Mobile.

The company made the announcement via social media. “Holidays are about Family – so we’ve delivered our 200th #A320Family member produced in #Mobile, Alabama to American Airlines!” said a Facebook post. “The #A321neo joins one of the youngest fleets in the region, building on the airline’s focus on fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft.”

The A321 is a larger version of the A320 with a higher passenger capacity. The “neo” suffix means it is equipped with more fuel-efficient engines than the first-generation powerplants used on A320s.

Drive to Succeed at Home and Abroad
The University of Alabama's News Center
When Austin Pearson came to The University of Alabama, he didn’t speak a word of German. Three years later, he was sitting in conference rooms at Mercedes’ headquarters in Germany, participating in meetings spoken in German about the company’s newest car models.

Pearson took part in a unique program at The University of Alabama, learning German alongside his engineering courses while working for Mercedes-Benz in Alabama and in Germany.
Offered through the UA College of Engineering, Two Steps Ahead: International German Student Exchange Program is designed for a select group of students to gain experience with multi-national companies in automotive engineering while learning German. It is a huge reason why Person left the Chicago, Illinois, area to come to UA.

“I’m happy that I chose to come here and be a part of this program,” he said. “The whole experience opened my eyes, and learning a new language, and going abroad was a great experience.”
Pearson graduates with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and German this semester and has already begun his graduate studies toward a doctorate.

He came to UA in 2016 never studying German but was quickly immersed in his German major while beginning his engineering studies. After his sophomore year, he worked the summer at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, an automotive manufacturing facility near UA. He interned as a process engineer in the paint and body shop helping improve output and troubleshooting technical and automation issues that arose.

He continued his engineering studies, even taking an automotive engineering course taught in German by Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian, an engineering professor who was vice president of Daimler AG’s group research and advanced engineering before joining UA.

Interview with Sudha David-Wilp, Senior Transatlantic Fellow and Deputy Director of the German Marshall Fund Berlin Office
By AmCham Germany
In November, Joe Biden reached the 270 electoral votes needed to claim victory in the 2020 presidential election. During the last weeks, Biden already announced several political projects and named some of his administration’s members. So AmCham Germany talked with US politics expert, Sudha David-Wilp, Senior Transatlantic Fellow and Deputy Director of the German Marshall Fund Berlin Office, about Joe Biden’s expected economic and trade policy, the revitalization of the transatlantic relationship, and how the US and Germany can work together to deal with common challenges.
Many experts assume that the transatlantic atmosphere will improve under Joe Biden. On November 9, 2020, immediately after Biden's election, the EU has imposed new punitive tariffs on American products. Doesn't this show that the old conflicts will remain for now?
The tariffs are a legacy of the strained relationship between the outgoing administration and Europe. One of President-elect Biden’s immediate goals is to spur economic recovery in light of the Corona pandemic, and he will need Europe to help the cause. The EU and the US economies account together for about half of global GDP, and reversing the tariffs would be a good way to kick-start growth. There are certainly sticking points in the relationship, but there is a strong will on both sides of the Atlantic to get back to constructive cooperation.

One of Joe Biden's first official acts could be for the US to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Would that already be a breakthrough for international climate policy?
Rejoining the Paris Agreement and reactivating membership in the WHO are signals that the United States wants to be a responsible actor within the framework of multilateralism. Biden also has support from Republicans when it comes to strengthening NATO. President-elect Biden is keen to assure allies that the US is back to being a dependable partner.

A German and an American business have jointly developed a vaccine against the Corona virus. What do you expect for the global economy now? Where will Biden leave the most significant traces in economic policy?
The partnership between BioNTech and Pfizer is a blueprint in transatlantic collaboration for finding solutions to global challenges. There will be other pandemics and it is also imperative to work on other topics such as climate change and artificial intelligence. The new US administration will be open to furthering transatlantic trade but has vowed to protect and benefit the middle class with its policies.

When analyzing the current developments in the global economy we also have to take China’s rising economic power into consideration. How can or should Germany and the US work together in developing a joint China strategy?
China will continue to either divide us or offer an opportunity for real mutual benefit. The Biden administration will recognize the need to work with Europe on making sure China stays within the bounds of the rules-based international order but will have redlines with Europe when it comes to 5G and the protection of sensitive industries. Moreover, the United States and Europe should be allies in confronting China regarding human rights abuse and its subversion of democracy. 


To check the rapid spread of covid in Germany, non-essential stores will be shuttered, employers urged to close workplaces and school children encouraged to remain at home. The stricter curbs — including a ban on gatherings over the New Year and drinking alcohol in public — will last until at least Jan. 10 after a looser shutdown failed to halt a surge in infections and deaths. Read Bloomberg's story.

The German government has come out against giving those who have received the coronavirus vaccine special rights and privileges. But the business incentive could take the decision out of their hands. Read DW.com's story.

Germany's daily Covid-19 deaths top 1,000 for the first time end of December. More than 32,000 people have now died from the virus in Germany, which appeared to fare relatively well in the first wave of coronavirus in the spring but has been hit hard by a second wave. Read thelocal.de's story.

Key Information for Travelers to Germany from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit CDC Website.


We have collected a list of resources that can provide information and assistance during these challenging times. You can find them on our website under Helpful Resources.

AlabamaGermany Partnership:

You can continue to reach us by phone: (205) 341-7880 or email: director@alabamagermany.org.

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