By Michail Vafeiadis
PENNSAUKEN, NJ- In the new Law Offices of George G. Horiates, Esq., a meeting was held June 23 to discuss the future cooperation of AHEPA District 5, the Hellenic News of America and Hermes Expo International.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Paul Kotrotsios, Founder and President of the Hermes Expo International and Publisher of HNA, stressed the necessity for further synergy and joint action among the Hellenes across the nation to efficiently cope with the challenges they face nowadays both here and the motherland as well.
“We can achieve greater levels of synergy. Currently there are too many organizations and thus, we should bring the surrounding area together,” Mr. Kotrotsios said.
In a conciliatory mode, participants with a long tradition of involvement and contribution to Hellenic affairs such as Governor Bill Harrison, Lt. Governor Sammy Thomas, Lee Millas from the AHEPA board, George Horiates, George Chronakis and George Pappas, agreed on the urgency of this initiative and underlined the reasons it has to succeed.
Mr. Kotrotsios said that it is in the interest of both AHEPA, HNA and the Hermes Expo International to attract and engage a more quality crowd consisted of young professionals that would later become the backbone of Hellenism in the nation. One of the goals discussed in the meeting was organizing in the near future a joint Ahepa-Hermes seminar and dinner during HNA’s 25th anniversary in October and bring prominent speakers from across the professional spectrum to discuss the future of Hellenism in the Tri-state area consisted of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and also to develop more links among the Hellenes in the U.S. and Greece.
Mr. Chronakis, President of the Camden Chapter #69, emphasized the need for AHEPA to reinvent itself and “look back to what we did in order to move forward.”
Another discussing theme was institutionalizing a concerted networking and publicity effort to better showcase AHEPA’s philanthropic work and activities like the Fifth District Cancer Research Foundation that organizes an annual fundraising to promote cancer research.
The call for synergy is louder than ever before considering the financial ills Greece and Cyprus encounter. Lt Governor Sammy Thomas said that AHEPA ought to also undertake business development functions to trigger and accommodate investment opportunities. “District 5 can lead this effort to provide the venue for all other Greek organizations to break down the walls among all professionals,” he said.
Participants concurred that for all these proposals to succeed it is important to engage other Districts too.
Another idea was to cooperate more closely with the Hellas and Cyprus Districts and use booths during the next Hermes Expo Fair to organize webinars and discuss ways how Greek businesses can create opportunities here to expand their business cycles. Mr. Thomas, who often travels to Greece and is familiar with the political and economic developments in the country, cited the example of a Greek software company that recently downsized its activities and reduced its personnel from 120 employees to 20.
“To offer their services to the U.S. they need to be coached on what the expectations are in order to be here; from signing contracts to having a whole apparatus ready to facilitate their entrance,” Mr. Thomas said.
In addition, this cooperation can also have a political facet which in conjunction with AHI and PSEKA in D.C will have a stronger voice and halt ongoing investment plans and activities in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.
Mr. Papas also echoed the exigency for greater collaboration and highlighted the role Hermes Expo can have as springboard for such projects. A constructive cooperation with HNA and the Hermes Expo International will create a dynamic duo that will attract more people who want to learn, share and discover professional opportunities but civic responsibility, philanthropy, education and Hellenism too.
Lee Millas said that by assuming a synergetic approach all organizations and Hellenes will benefit equally. “This is why we also have to make the Hermes Expo bigger,” he said.