by: Dimitri Soultogiannis and Stavroula Kotrotsios
The Hermes Expo offers many intriguing opportunities for TRADE, COMMUNICATIONS, & CULTURE targeting the professional & community organizations, international and national businesses, and the next generations of Greek American professionals.
Greek, U.S, and SE European products were in the spotlight during the 20th Anniversary of the HERMES EXPO at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ the weekend of April 2nd, with networking events in Philadelphia and New York taking place earlier that week. Participants came from all across the United States, and of course Europe, representing Greece, Romania, Armenia, and Albania.
MONDAY - March 28, 2011 The Hermes Expo commenced with a visit from the President of the Greek National Tourist Organization (GNTO) Mr. Nicholas Kanellopoulos and his team from Athen’s Greece, including the (GNTO) representation in America that is headquartered in Manhattan and lead by Mr. Chrysanthos Petsilas. The delegation met with the representative officials of the city, state, and region of Phildelphia including the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau of Phildelphia, and about 80 regional businessmen. HEI hosted a luncheon at Estia Restaurant, Phildelphia’s most elegant Greek & Mediterranean restaurant, in honor of the President and his guests, looking to build a stronger relationship between the Phildelphia region and Greece in the promotion of greater relationships through tourism, trade and business, taking advantage of the "synergy" between Thessaloniki and Philadelphia agreement that the two respective Mayors signed in 2000.
THURSDAY - March 31, 2011 The Hermes Expo continued in New York, successfully showcasing products from Greece and SE Europe at the Greek Food & Wine Tasting Event hosted at the Martinique Cafe-Radisson Hotel on 32nd & Broadway. Amorgion-Rakomelo, Evharis Estate and Sokos Ambelones Wines were featured along with the special Feta Cheese «Tsobanaki» by Olympia Imports and Ouzon soda from Opa originals.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY - April 2-3, 2011 The Hermes Expo in Atlantic City began on Saturday morning at the Tropicana with the "Doing Business in Greece and South Eastern Mediterranean Seminar" that included various meetings and a presentations by Mr. Aris Melissaratos, the Senior Advisor to the President of John Hopkins University, who commented on business opportunities, investments and business potential in his country of birth, Romania. A short presentation was made by the General Consul of Romania in Philadelphia, Mr. George Sfendou. During the opening remarks, the participants had the chance to hear from Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Fl) as well as from the legendary mayor of Himara Mr. Vasili Bolanos who is also the president of the Greek minority-community in Albania. Mr. Bolanos has worked hard over the years for the preservation of Hellenism in the region.
His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos blessed the Hermes Expo with a wonderful service at the Grand Opening Ceremony. Paul Kotrotsios the Founder & President of Hermes Expo, as well as publisher of the Hellenic News of America, expressed his satisfaction and pride in the 20th Anniversary of the Hermes Expo. Mr. Kotrotsios explained that »Hermes Expo gives businesses the opportunity to introduce and further expose their products and services to the American market and vice versa, we provide the bridge between the South Eastern European countries and the United States and further allow for better business co-operation that in the long-term can help Greece to become a very competitive nation when it comes to business and trade».
The Hermes Expo had a great presence and following in Atlantic City. Members from all professional communities and of all ages participated and understood the potential that Hermes Expo offers to assist and connect people interested in growing their business, contacts, and knowledge of trade and professionalism. It must be noted, the young presence that included students and young professionals who attended the Expo throughout the weekend, including the CME (Continuing Medical Education), CLE (Continuing Legal Education), Youth Mentor Fair Lectures, and the Dinner Banquet on Saturday night hosted by the Hermes Expo for all the honorees, sponsors, Exhibitors and participants.
The exhibits featuring Food and Wine at the Hermes Expo included International Beverage companies such as «Amorgion Rakomelo», «SOKOS AE» and «Efharis Wines», Olympia Imports. Additionally, the 20th Hermes Expo in co-operation with Talk Fusion team, One For All discounted prescription cards, Sparti Energy, and Lyoness USA gave the great opportunity to participants to look for better opportunities and expand their business horizons. Hermes suggested that every single one of us become a representative of these great companies on a local level and eventually represent the programs.
Congressmen John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Fl) were of course the center of attention at the Hermes Expo. Congressman Bilirakis arrived at the Expo with his two sons. «I am really pleased that I was given the chance to participate in this Expo, and support this great effort,» Bilirakis told HNA. «Not only are we given the chance to come closer to our roots and the Greek-American community but we also give the opportunity to our brothers from Greece to come to the United States and promote their great products, in the middle of a huge financial mess in Greece and here at home,» he added. Congressman Sarbanes (D-MD) was also very proud to preside over the Hermes Expo and address the Hellenic Lawyers Association, the Hellenic Medical Societies, and the Professional Growth and Youth Mentor Fair. Congressman Sarbanes was very excited to address the Greek-American youth in regards to their Professional future as part of the Professional Growth & Youth Mentor Fair founded and coordinated by Stavroula Kotrotsios.
PROFESSIONAL GROWTH & YOUTH MENTOR FAIR - Stavroula Kotrotsios has been inspired by her father to give back to the community and connect the successful Greek American leaders with the students and young professionals. She commented that «The Hermes Expo is a forward-looking institution seeking to assist the next generation of Greek American professionals with meeting the demands of their education and careers.» The youth forum also featured other important speakers such as the President of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) Mr. Nick Larigakis, former Economic Minister of Maryland and Senior Advisor to the President at John Hopkins University Mr. Aris Melissaratos, as well as Dr. Spiros Spireas the Founder & CEO of Sigmapharm Laboratories. All speakers encouraged and offered mentorship advice to the youth. They communicated that it is only through hard work and patience that professionals become successful. «We are Greek and it is our responsibility to also give back to the community. We are all busy and distracted by our careers but, we should always make time for the community because at the end we and those around us will all benefit from it» said Congressman Sarbanes.
Dr. Spireas' words resonated throughout the room: «In life there are losers, winners and all those who fall in between. It is up to you to decide what category you want to fall in,» he said. Nick Larigakis inspired the youth with his passion for International Relations and his contributions to US-Greece-Cyprus Relations. «Maybe you will never become millionaires or billionaires, however, you have to love and be passionate about what you do, that’s the only way to become successful,» he said. Larigakis also expressed that «I will always be next to the youth and help you as best as I can, there are not many organizations like Hermes Expo and AHI that will provide such assistance to the YOUTH». Mr. Aris Melissaratos agreed with Nick Larigakis, during his speech and added what it takes to reach the top. «Every single one of us sets different priorities in life, you should think about and focus on your plan of action,» he advised. Yiannis Sianis, representing Calamos Investments also addressed the young members stressing out the importance of Forums like the Hermes Expo and declaring the support of Calamos Investments.
HELLENIC MEDICAL SOCIETY - CME - The Hermes Expo International also promoted the Hellenic Medical Society and hosted the seminar on Continuing Medical Education (CME) within the forum in Atlantic City. Additionally, doctors were looking to coordinate their societies for a stronger Greek American medical representation in the U.S. Notable among the doctors who spoke and supported the Hermes Expo effort was Dr. Spiro Mezitis, Dr. Nikos Mezitis, Dr. Elias Iliadis, Dr. Haadjiliadis, and Dr. Ananias Adamides. These individuals played a crucial role in organizing their societies at the Hermes Expo and stressed the importance of the CME (Continuing Medical Education) programs and explained the important role that Hermes plays for the professionals of the Greek American community.
NATIONAL HELLENIC LAWYERS ASSOCIATION - CLE - Parallel to the CME seminars was another vital professional organization led by the Lawyers. The National Hellenic Lawyers Association stood by the Hermes Expo where they hosted their seminar on Continuing Legal Education (CLE). Greek-American lawyers George Zapantis and Mammy Stathatos, both attorneys from New York, spearheaded the effort to organize the lawyers and the CLE at the Hermes Expo. George Zapanatis stated «We are thankful to the Hermes Expo for providing the forum for the Hellenic Lawyers to organize on a national level and host their CLE lecture together for the FIRST TIME. We are looking forward to future cooperation and synergy with the Hermes Expo.» The topic discussed at the CLE seminar was international law with a focus on the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles currently located in England. Esteemed Greek American Scholar Michael Reppas spoke on the issue which was greatly complimented by Wharton and UPENN Law professor Stuart Diamond, a leading expert and New York Times Best Seller on Negotiation. Professor Diamond also discussed his recent book «Getting More» and presented some keynotes on how to address this issue in the context of International Law.
The honorees of the 20th Anniversary of the Hermes Expo Dinner Awards Gala that took place on Saturday night, were Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Dr. Tsokos a leading scholar of cancer research and statistics at the University of Southern Florida, Dr. Spiro Spireas Founder & CEO of Sigmapharm Laboratories and President of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), prominent Greek American Lawyer George Horiates who President of the Philadelphia Federation and Governor of the AHEPA District #5, Mr. Nicholas Karacostas the Supreme President of the AHEPA, the president of the GNTO Mr. Nikolas Kanellopoulos, Dr. George Drogaris a great supporter of the Greek School «Plato», and a team of teachers honored by the Federation. Dr. Christine Warnke, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. She is a prominent Greek American who serves as a Senior Government Adviser to the U.S. Government and works for Hogan Lovells who supports the Hermes Expo.
All exhibitors, participants, and guests were enthralled by this year’s events and are looking forward to the next Hermes Expo. Throughout the year, the Hermes Expo team will still promote community efforts to mobilize trade and professionalism in the Greek American community and beyond. «It is all about SYNERGY» Paul Kotrotsios says. «In other words, a cooperation between all aspects and members of our community so we can move forward, all united, and promote our Greece and its products here in our country the United States of America and American products and services to Greece and the South Eastern Europe.»