STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Now, the trouble in Europe affects American travelers there. Deflation and the falling euro mean visitors to Berlin pay less for currywurst. It also affects Americans at home, as is apparent to anyone who takes a drive through the Southeast. From WABE in Atlanta, Susanna Capelouto reports.
SUSANNA CAPELOUTO, BYLINE: Interstate 85, from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Atlanta, has a German nickname.
CHRISTOPH SANDER: We have come to call this the Autobahn because that's the focus of German investment to the region.
CAPELOUTO: Christoph Sander represents Germany as a consul in six Southern states. I-85 is a road he travels a lot to visit German businesses.
SANDER: Two-hundred fifty companies around the Atlanta metro region, about 200 companies in the Charlotte region - and then we have 130 or so between Spartanburg and Greenville.
CAPELOUTO: German car brands like BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche have brought thousands of jobs to the region. And last week, Governor Nathan Deal used his State of the State address to thank Mercedes for moving its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to Atlanta.
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GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL: The Mercedes-Benz slogan is the best or nothing. The company that accepts nothing but the best chose Georgia. I'll take that.
CAPELOUTO: Mercedes also got more than $23 million in tax incentives to come to Atlanta. But Germans aren't the only ones bringing jobs. Plenty of French, British, Dutch and Irish firms have a strong presence in the South. And that's why the region should pay attention to what happens in Europe, says Jeff Rosensweig. He teaches international business at Emory University.
JEFF ROSENSWEIG: In America, we forget how close our ties are.
CAPELOUTO: European firms bring investment to the U.S., which could dry up if Europe's economy does poorly. Rosensweig also points out U.S. companies get big profits from European subsidiaries. But now, he says, there's this...
ROSENSWEIG: Accumulating fear that Europe, you know, one of the great potential engines of the world economy, is an engine that's stuttering.
CAPELOUTO: The euro has already taken a hit against the dollar, making it more expensive for Europeans to travel. That could hurt another big European connection to the south - Florida tourism.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) When you wish upon a star.
CAPELOUTO: Many Europeans visit Disney World, and Naples is very popular, too. Europeans, drawn to its beautiful beaches and shops, pumped $216 million into the local economy last year. JoNell Mody is with the convention and visitors bureau there.
JONELL MODY: Well, they come, and they stay longer, and they typically spend more money than a U.S. visitor. And they also like to come when they have the bulk of their vacation time, which is the summer, which is our slower season. So they're a very, very important part of helping us stabilize our tourism economy.
CAPELOUTO: Economists like Rosensweig want the European Central Bank to pull out all the stops, much like the U.S. Federal Reserve did during the U.S. recession, and help stabilize European markets.
ROSENSWEIG: When Europe does well, we do well. And the reverse is true also. I don't want either of us to sneeze because the other one might catch cold.
CAPELOUTO: The European Central Bank will meet Thursday to decide on a policy to help Europe's economy fight off a recession. For NPR News, I'm Susanna Capelouto in Atlanta.
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