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Mayor Parker announces 2014 Houston Consular Forum

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At a press conference in the rotunda of Houston City Hall Friday June 6, Mayor Parker announced the theme of the forthcoming annual Consular Ball and plans for a new international business conference on October 17, 2014 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The ball will take place Saturday night October 18.

Mayor Parker spoke for about 8 minutes, reviewing the role of international trade, the importance of the consular corps and briefly reviewing the history of the annual Consular Ball. “At a time when our world is hyper-connected and the space between countries is rapidly diminishing, the Arctic Ocean remains one of the last great frontiers on the globe,” said Mayor Parker. “The selection of the Arctic circle nations the Northern Lights, focuses on a region of the world with unprecedented opportunities.”

Focusing on the growing importance of natural resources in the arctic and the changing technology that can make them available, the theme for this year's ball is “Northern Lights, Southern Hospitality.” The arctic countries featured are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. This year's conference will be co-organized by the Offshore Technology Conference's Arctic Technology Conference. The treasurer of the Consular Corps welcomed the new conference and thanked Mayor Parker and the major sponsors.

Houston's consular corps, including delegates of more than 90 nations, is the third largest in the United States. Every year since 1952, the Consular corps has hosted an annual gala ball, sponsored by one or more business organizations, to celebrate various aspects of international trade and culture and promote informal networking that fosters business development. More recently, the Parker administration's Office of Protocol and International Affairs has taken a more pro-active role in helping to promote contacts with the consular corps and coordinate visiting trade missions and events such as the Consular Ball.

At close of the press conference, Mayor Parker, assisted by the treasurer of the Consular Corps, The The Honorable Margherita Young-Zellweger, Honorary Consul of Switzerland, presented checks for grants from proceeds of last year's successful Consular Ball to Rice University, the University of Houston, the University of Saint Thomas, and the Junior Chamber of Commerce Foundation to benefit local international educational programs.

The Washington-based ambassadors of the seven featured countries and the Houston-based consular offices will serve on the Northern Lights Honorary Committee. Proceeds from the Consular Forum will benefit Houston International Initiatives, a non-profit organization formed to further Houston's international outreach efforts as well as supporting international education programs at local universities.

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