Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., has been named Honorary Consul of the Republic of Finland. Hecht will follow the Hon. Philip deV. Claverie, Sr., a Senior Partner at Phelps Dunbar law firm, who retired after serving as Honorary Consul of Finland for over 19 years.
“With his expertise in Business Development, Michael is uniquely positioned to represent Finland’s interests in his consular district, and U.S. investments in Finland,” said Claverie. “I am delighted that he will succeed me, and I am sure that he will enjoy the experience as much as I have.”
“It is a thrill and an honor to follow in the footsteps of Honorary Consul Claverie,” said Hecht. “The opportunities for economic, cultural, and policy connections between Louisiana and Finland are legion. I am grateful to the Consulate General of Finland, the Louisiana Consular Corps, and everyone who has supported this appointment.”
Hecht’s appointment as the new Honorary Consul was made by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was approved by the U.S. State Department. The Honorary Consul of Finland is a member of the Louisiana Consular Corps, which currently represents over 40 countries from around the world.
“The Honorary Consul of Finland performs a number of duties, including: promotion of trade opportunities, encouragement of investment, facilitation of cultural exchanges, assistance to Finnish citizens and travelers, as well as general overall promotion of the Finnish/Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas relationship,” said Mika Koskinen, Consul General of Finland. “I am very happy to have found Michael Hecht to represent us. With his expertise, talent to create contact networks and know-how of Nordic countries, I am sure that he will be very successful as Honorary Consul of Finland.”
“The Louisiana Consular Corps is the oldest and one of the largest consular corps in the U.S. today, said Bret Clesi, Dean of the Louisiana Consular Corps, and Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Albania. “It strives to encourage business, educational, and cultural ties between Louisiana and the international community. Through the excellent services of retiring Finnish Honorary Consul Philip Claverie, Finland strengthened the relationship created by another New Orleanian, Ambassador Jack Weinmann, during his service at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. In addition to his two decades of service to Finland and to the Louisiana Consular Corps, Honorary Consul Claverie has achieved another diplomatic coup in the appointment of Honorary Consul Michael Hecht to succeed him. Honorary Consul Hecht will become a very valuable member of the Consular Corps at a crucial time in global geopolitics. He will be formally welcomed by the Consular Corps at its March 15th meeting in New Orleans.”
“Several industries are shared by Finland and Louisiana, including Software & Video Games, e.g., Finland’s Rovio (Angry Birds); Manufacturing, e.g., Finland’s KONE; and Petrochemical, e.g., Finland’s Neste,” said Petra Söderling, Senior Advisor at Business Finland. “Both Finland and Louisiana have a shared interest in innovation, clean energy and energy independence, and entrepreneurship – ‘Slush,’ held every November in Helsinki, is one of the world’s leading tech and startup events. Further, Finland has a number of laudable attributes, including the highest- ranked primary education in the world, being named the ‘Happiest Nation in the World’ for four years in a row, and a consistent Top Ten ranking in ‘Economic Freedom.’”
Greater New Orleans, Inc. has a dedicated and growing International Trade department, that works in close partnership with the Louisiana Consular Corps. Further, GNO, Inc. and the World Trade Center of New Orleans recently announced a formal operational partnership, which will bring additional resources and focus to international relations. As Honorary Consul of Finland, Hecht will be able to leverage these relationships to redouble work on economic development opportunities in Finland and the Nordic countries.
Hecht has a number of connections to Finland and the Nordic countries. His wife is Danish, their children have all studied in Denmark, and he has extended family in diplomatic service in Europe (and Asia). Hecht has worked with Finnish companies and colleagues here in New Orleans, as well as in Australia, where he lived as a management consultant.