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The Texas Feels Slovenia 2024 business development delegation returned to Slovenia with a deeper understanding of the American business environment, gaining experience and welcoming new opportunities. Last week, the business development delegation of Texas Feels Slovenia 2024: “Dallas and Austin – Where Business Goes BIG!” discovered business opportunities in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio in Texas, U.S. At two business forums, Slovenia presented itself to the American business public as an excellent economic partner with attractive investment opportunities. The delegation is a continuation of the successful story as part of the continuous promotion of Slovenia, its economy and tourism on the American market, co-coordinated by SPIRIT Slovenia, the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Embassy of Slovenia in Washington, the Government Communications Office, the Slovenian Tourist Board, and AmCham Slovenia, as well as several interested companies. In Dallas, the delegation watched the basketball game at the “I Feel Slovenia Night,” a regular-season NBA game, where the Dallas Mavericks, with our Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić, faced the Bolton Celtics.

For the third consecutive year, Slovenia successfully presented investment and business opportunities combined with tourism at the “Texas Feels Slovenia” business and investment conference. The Texas Feels Slovenia 2024 program commenced on Monday and was divided into three parts: a visit to Dallas, Austin and San Marcos, and San Antonio. The organizers were joined by representatives of ten companies from the finance, healthcare, energy, and technology sectors, which prove that Slovenia can provide promising opportunities for U.S. investors in power and energy security, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, transport and logistics, the automotive industry, digitalization, and tourism. Foreign investors increasingly recognize Slovenia as an attractive investment environment, as it presents an entry point to the South-Eastern European markets with a highly skilled workforce, strong research capacities, and development capabilities, all of which create a favorable environment for production, services, and R&D. From January 21 to January 27, the delegation visited leading I.T. and high tech companies, leaders in the gaming industry, e-mobility, rare metal recycling, Gearbox Software, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Dell, Tesla Giga Factory, Noveon Magnetics, as well as NBA franchises and the Dallas Mavericks. The delegation also paid a visit to the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Texas Association of Business, and the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, which are considered to be the most prominent business associations in their respective cities.

On Monday evening, the atmosphere was electric at the NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. At the “I Feel Slovenia Night,” STO, along with the Government Communication Office and Ljubljana Tourism, promoted Slovenia through advertising on and around the court: the hall was colored green, two promotional videos were shown, and the spectators in the hall got to know our country through a quiz and at the exhibition center in the hall of the American Airlines Center. We were also proud to see the world-famous Slovenian acrobats, the Dunking Devils, liven up the game with their stunts.

*Photos: Dallas Mavericks

The delegation proved once again that sport and business are indeed intertwined, and the sporting spirit embodied by Slovenian athletes worldwide is proof of our nation’s resilience and excellence. This year’s effort to promote the export of Slovenian products and services to the U.S. market officially began with the business forum in downtown Dallas, near the famous American Airlines Center. The slogan “I Feel Slovenia. Green. Creative. Smart.” from the SPIRIT Slovenia campaign received great support in Dallas, also off the basketball court. Slovenia is perceived as green, creative, and smart in the realm of business, too.

Although Slovenia and Texas have different economic structures, they also share many similarities. Texas, the second largest economy in the United States, provides an excellent opportunity for cooperation, whereas Slovenia, with its geostrategic location at the heart of Europe and highly educated workforce, can be an excellent investment opportunity and a superb business partner. At the premises of the Dallas Regional Chamber, which was selected as the chamber of the year nationwide, Slovenia once again found itself embraced by business opportunities. Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United States of America, H.E. Iztok Mirošič, began the meeting with a welcoming address in which he highlighted the opportunities in both countries, the enthusiasm for sports, especially basketball, and the hospitality of the locals.

This year’s delegation members will also remember Dallas for the following events:

· A visit to Gearbox, the renowned creator of Borderlands and a leading player in the gaming industry. With its headquarters based in Frisco, Texas, the gaming industry continues to soar, with over two billion gamers worldwide.

· The day after the game, the delegation visited the American Airlines Center. The Dallas Mavericks franchise is estimated to be worth between $3.5 billion and $5 billion, and the presentation by Connor Terry and Billy Phillips highlighted the synergy between sports and business. The outstanding Slovenian basketball player Luka Dončić also successfully strengthens the reputation of Slovenian talent and opens doors for potential partnerships and investments.

· The delegation was also received by Morgan Lewis, one of the top twenty law firms in the U.S. Together with her colleagues, Janice Zabukovec Davis, a proud Slovenian-American and one of the most influential women in Texas, presented the legal aspects of doing business in the U.S. and shared more about the investment opportunities, giving the delegation a deeper understanding of the legal environment and numerous prospects in the U.S. and Texas.

Texas, no longer known merely for its cowboy culture, is now the hub of the business universe and the future financial capital of the world. A prime example of Texas’s business boom is Austin, the capital of Texas, which also hosted the central economic event of the delegation – the Business Forum. It provided an excellent opportunity to present the Slovenian business environment and get to know the American business culture and prospective business partners. The forum was followed by visits to institutions and companies specializing in high tech, data management, and technological innovation. The delegation members visited the I.T. giant Dell in Austin, where John L. Howard, Jr. Director, Government Affairs, Dell Technologies, took them through the business journey of founder Michael Dell and finally shared a glimpse into the digital future.

For many, a visit to Tesla’s global headquarters, Giga Factory in Austin (GigaFactory Texas), was the highlight of the week. One of the largest manufacturing facilities in the world, employing more than 18,000 people, Giga Factory is the home of Cybertrack and a place where the Model Y and batteries are manufactured.

On the last day, the delegation members met up with two successful Slovenians in the U.S. In San Marcos, the delegation was received by Dr. Miha Zakotnik, founder and CTO of Noveon Magnetics, an expert in magnets who developed an innovative method for their recycling. The delegation visited the Greater San Antonio Chamber in San Antonio, an economic association with more than 130 years of tradition. They spent the afternoon with Dr. Arne Baruca, a marketing and digital marketing expert and a professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

The successful Slovenians in the U.S. are also ambassadors of the Believe in Slovenia initiative, which represents exceptional individuals in the U.S. with Slovenian roots who contribute to the development of various fields and have a loving and optimistic attitude towards Slovenia.