Home | About NEO Magazine
June 2008

Greek American making history in Greece

Greek Americans have not forgotten Greece. In fact, this year Greek Americans are rediscovering Greece and investing in it big-time with both their time and money.

AHEPA plans to hold its first convention there in over thirty years. “The last convention the AHEPA hosted in Greece was in 1972,” says Supreme President Ike Gulas. “We had slated this one for 2001, until 9/11 happened. Then we held the convention in New York as a gesture of solidarity and to show that New York would come back. But we always wanted to have a convention in Greece for the last eight years and we’ve been trying to find the right year. And it just so happened that this coming year everything fell into place.”

It will bring, he says, thousands of Greeks to Greece, who have never been there before, which can be a logistical challenge. “But I believe it’s going to be very successful,” he says. “For a lot of Americans of Greek descent this will be an opportunity for them to go there and experience their roots and see Greece in a different light. It’s an undertaking, it’s a massive undertaking, but it’s worth it.”

The second big event for Greek Americans in Greece this year is the single largest investment in Greece by any American corporation: Cal West Investment Corporation and Renew Energy will convert two sugar factories in Larissa and Xanthi to ethanol. The total Investment for the two plants will be about $200 million Euros (about $300 million), which will make it the largest U.S. investment in Greece in the last 25 years.

According to James Kakridas, President of Cal West Investment Corp., “the two plants will process about 200,000 MT of corn that presently is used to feed livestock and will produce about 60 million gallons ethanol, food grade corn oil, food grade co2, and still provide animal food at an even lower price. The ethanol will be blended with the gasoline as an oxygenated additive that will reduce carbon monoxide to the environment.”

Out of nine final approved bidders, including some of the largest firms in Europe and Greece, the two finalists were Motor Oil Hellas and Renew Energy, which finally won the bid.

Kakridas, who emigrated from Greece, says, “this is a win-win project for Greece. The two plants will employ about 150 to 200 people per unit. On 24/7 basis operation they will support the local economy, they will provide price support for farmers, plus thousands more jobs throughout the economy in sales, marketing and transporting of the byproducts, less dependence on imported oil, cleaner environment. Greece will not have to import about 3,000,000 barrels of oil, saving more than $ 400 million a year.”

What’s instructive in both cases is that Greek Americans see Greece as not just a vacation spot or a distant memory for their parents and grandparents, but as a homeland they need to visit and reconnect with and have their children get to know. And some of the largest corporations in the world see it as a thriving market and a fulcrum for the economy in Europe. You can invest your money in Greece and do well, and you can invest your time and rediscover the better part of yourself.

Dimitri C. Michalakis

Sponsored links

Home | About NEO Magazine

web stats tracker