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Governors, mayors from U.S. and Sweden to speak

Leading business, government officials headline business congress

Attendees of the inaugural Swedish-American Business Congress will have the rare opportunity of hearing some of the leading government, economic development and industrial officials from both Mississippi and Sweden when the event convenes May 11-12 in Jackson.

“We are very excited about the caliber of our speakers and panelists for this first-ever business congress,” said Steve Vassallo, president of the Madison County Economic Development Authority — organizer of the event. “The fact that so many of our state’s leaders are willing to participate along with their Swedish counterparts makes a strong statement about the priority they ascribe to international economic development.”

Vassallo said an opening address by Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice will be followed by presentations from Gov. Borje Hornlund of the Vasternorrland province of Sweden; Mayor Jan Nasstrom of Solleftea, Sweden; and Christer Persson, city manager and chief executive officer of Solleftea.

Other state leaders on the program in addition to Fordice include Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler of Madison; Jimmy Heidel, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development; and Chancellor Robert Khayat of the University of Mississippi.

Joining Heidel to explain the state’s economic development efforts will be other members of his staff, including Jay Moon, director of international development; and Jeff Dukes, senior special projects officer.

Mark Bounds, chairman of the Madison County Economic Development Authority and president of Madison Realty Group, will serve as moderator and introduce Fordice.

Panel discussions will be led by business owners from Sweden and U.S. subsidiaries. Panelists will include Brigadier Bo R. Svensson of Deminor; Ingvar Haglof, Haglof Inc.; Borje Andersson, Eka Chemicals; Bengt-Olov Bystrom, Logosol; Stafen Toresson, Minitube; and Lars Eklund, KPMG Bohlins.

Each of the speakers has a wealth of experience and knowledge and is highly-qualified in their respective fields, Vassallo said.

More than 130 business executives and government officials from Sweden and Mississippi have committed to attend the business congress. Additional plans for the event include a special viewing of the Splendors of Versailles exhibit and tours of Madison County industries.

The majority of the Swedish delegation will be in Madison County for several days prior to the business congress to participate in events celebrating the sister-city relationship between Solleftea and Madison.

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