The Consul General of France in the Southeast, Denis Barbet, will visit Alabama for the first time since taking over his position last summer. He will be in Auburn, Huntsville and Athens on January 16 and 17, 2013, where he will be joined by Nicolas Florsch and David Kibler, respectively Scientific Attaché and Cultural Attaché of this Consulate, and welcomed by Samia Spencer, France’s Honorary Consul in Alabama.
Tentative plans for Denis Barbet on January 16 include meetings with Auburn University President Jay Gogue; Associate Provost for International Programs, Andrew Gillespie; and deans of various colleges. Denis Barbet is convinced that this State offers excellent opportunities for university partnerships with France, as both France and Alabama are looking toward innovation in key scientific areas. While at Auburn University, Denis Barbet will also make a presentation on the current state of French-American relations to the Auburn University student body.
Later that day and on January 17, the Consul General and his party will be hosted in Huntsville by NAITA (North Alabama International Trade Association). Among other activities, they will visit the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and various businesses in the Cummings Research Park. They will also be honored at a reception hosted by the International Society of Huntsville. Following the visit to Huntsville, the Consul General will proceed to Athens, AL, where he will bestow Legion of Honor Awards – France’s highest honorific distinction – to WWII Veterans at the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives.
The French community of Alabama is estimated to include 500 citizens, with a 10% growth over the past few years. About twenty French companies are located in various parts of the State, representing diverse sectors such as construction, metalworking, consulting/auditing, chemistry/petrochemical and automotive.