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Successful return of business delegation from Ohio and Pennsylvania, many contacts and new business opportunities created, strategic partnerships and even potential investment

Representatives of 15 companies, who participated in the business delegation organized by AmCham Slovenia and SPIRIT Public Agency, returned from the USA yesterday. In 7 days they visited three cities – Cleveland, Akron and Pittsburgh and met representatives of more than 60 companies, they were also hosted by representatives of the city authorities, business accelerators, and even visited the global headquarters of companies Goodyear and Westinghouse. In the informal part they also met with representatives of the Slovene community, among whom there were successful business people who would be happy to do business and help their homeland.

Company representatives were extremely satisfied, particularly due to the feeling that everything was possible and that people were engaged in business, not politics. They made numerous specific connections and realized the importance of personal contact and trust more than ever before.


Cleveland, May 12 and May 13, 2014

Meeting with Slovene business community, business breakfast, meeting with Mayor Frank G. Jackson, B2B meetings

Mag. Ajša Vodnik, Director of AmCham Slovenia pointed out in her opening speech that she was very pleased that the starting point of the delegation was in Cleveland and thanked for exceptional hospitality to all the successful American entrepreneurs with Slovene roots: “Slovenia must be aware of its extreme potential and richness it has in you, bonds are already created, we only need to take a better care of them and upgrade them also with a greater economic cooperation.”

Jože Kokal, S-ABA Chairman continued with expressing support to AmCham in their effort to connect and mentioned that Slovene companies will also on the base of success abroad help the success of Slovenia and its economic upturn. He emphasized that Slovene companies are welcome in Cleveland and spoke about the large number of business opportunities offered by successful business people – representatives of Slovene diaspora in the USA.

Bernardine R. van Kessel, Director of International Business Attraction Team Northeast Ohio from Cleveland mentioned to Slovene companies the importance of business cooperation, as the state of Ohio has an attractively low tax rate (third lowest tax rate in USA) with the fifth strongest industrial region in USA, that covers a market of 11.5 million inhabitants and possesses a strong polymer, automobile and aircraft industry. There are seven business incubators in the Cleveland surroundings as well as world renowned specific industry linked to medicine. There are four medical clusters operating in this area, connecting industry, development of medical equipment and hospitals.

Matej Skočir, M.Sc., head of internationalization at SPIRIT Public Agency, presented investment opportunities in Slovenia to American companies.

Jurček Žmauc, Consul General of Republic of Slovenia, who had actively assisted in the organization of the way to Cleveland, confirmed the belief that it is important for Slovene companies to come to USA, especially Cleveland and get in a personal relationship, as trust is the thing business is built on in USA.

Joe Cimperman and Michael Polensek, members of Cleveland city council, both of Slovene origin, said: “Slovenia is our first choice for business cooperation.”

In the afternoon, Slovene entrepreneurs and business people were hosted by Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson.

Emil Gaspari, businessmen and a prominent representative of Slovene companies in the U.S. market, joined the delegation from New York.

Akron, OHIO, ZDA

Akron, May 13 and May 14, 2014

Official signing of Economic Development Collaboration Agreement between Akron and AmCham Slovenia, visiting business accelerator, B2B meetings

Members of delegation were at the reception of city of Akron, where the signing of agreement about economic development collaboration and help to companies to enter American and Slovene market between Akron and AmCham Slovenia took place.

Mag. Ajša Vodnik, Director of AmCham Slovenia on behalf of AmCham Slovenia, the Agreement of cooperation in economic development with Roberto Y. Bowman, President of Akron Development Cooperation, representing Akron, Ohio.

The goal of both partners is to mutually enable easier market entry to companies who do that with help of both partner organizations. In that way Slovene companies will enter the USA market easier, as well easier entry of American companies to Slovene market, and help to those who wish to set up a center for Central and Eastern Europe in Slovenia. Robert Y. Bowman said on this occasion, that American companies are insufficiently aware of importance and potential of the European market, and added that, given the fact that he himself had been in Slovenia many times before, Slovenia could be an exceptional base for entering markets of Central and South-Eastern Europe.

Ajša Vodnik expressed a great pleasure to see that even in such an important and demanding market as American, Slovene companies can now with help of AmCham and partners get the »soft landing«, all that with support of people who know Slovenia, quality of Slovene companies, and show us affection.

Gregg P. Cramer, vice president of Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce joined the business delegation and presented the business environment of city of Akron as well as the key industries, which are strongly connected to the city development: polymer, automobile and aircraft industry. Delegation then continued the visit in the Akron Global Business Accelerator. Dr. Anthony Margida, Director of the Accelerator, presented together with his team one of the most successful entrepreneurial accelerators in the part of the USA.

Sam. D. DeShazior, deputy director for economic development of Akron, who has already visited Slovenia before said, that Ljubljana is for one of his favorite cities and that he could compare these cities in many ways – especially in the hard-working people of Akron, where they hold their great industrial heritage of tire manufacturing giants.

Mag. Ajša Vodnik, Director of AmCham Slovenia, said in this regard: “The results of the Akron Accelerator are impressive. In the last five years, the companies in the accelerator have generated $181 million, 639 jobs and gained $86 million of investment funds and that places them among the top 20 USA accelerators. This is another argument for AmCham Slovenia to link and enable Slovene entrepreneurs to enter such an ambitious and success-focused environments.”

Slovene companies had the chance to hear about experience of companies in the accelerator at first hand, especially interesting were business meetings.

In the afternoon, delegation visited one of the most important companies in state of Ohio, Goodyear global headquarters of Goodyear, which employs 3000 people, and 68.000 otherwise. The company is significant also for Slovenia, as its regional headquarters and one of their 52 factories are located right in Slovenia.


Pittsburg, May 15 and May 16, 2014

Business conference, opening the Honorary Consulate of Republic of Slovenia, SNPJ visit, visiting Westinghouse global headquarters, B2B

AmCham business delegation continued in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. City of Pittsburgh in the fifth place in terms of economic growth in USA, it has exceptional business infrastructure, dynamic environment for successful business operation in the U.S. market and good conditions for a high quality of life. The delegation with 20 representatives of Slovene companies first attended a Business conference, organized together with Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. Petra Mitchell, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Slovenia and Suzi Pegg, representative of the Regional Alliance presented the business environment of the Eastern Pennsylvania region and highlighted the rich tradition of Pittsburgh manufacturing and its dynamic business environment that offers many opportunities.

Mag. Ajša Vodnik, Director of AmCham Slovenia, Matej Skočir, M.Sc., head of internationalization and foreign investments at SPIRIT Public Agency, presented Slovenia,investment opportunities and business environment in Slovenia, Gorazd Renčelj, Economic Counselor at Embassy of Republic of Slovenia in USA, presented American-Slovene business cooperation to more than 30 American business people, who later also attended B2B meetings.

B2B meetings were attended by American companies that were interested in operating in Slovenia or have Slovene partners. Meetings were attended also by some major energy, manufacturing, high-tech and engineering companies, including the owner and president of Millcraft Investments Mr. Jack B. Piatt and vice president of the company John Paul Jones, who wants to set up a joint venture with Slovene company Grah Automotive. They stressed that such an investment is an excellent basis to start building trust and therefore new investment opportunities.

Mag. Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director of AmCham Slovenia, said: »I am pleased that together with Petra Mitchell, Honorary Slovene Consul and with support of Gorazd Renčelj, Economic Counselor at the at Embassy of Republic of Slovenia in USA, we managed to identify the relevant companies on the American side, as the potential business partners on both sides were willing to discuss and were open for opportunities.”

Dr. Božo Cerar, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the USA welcomed the delegation and pointed out: »Such delegations certainly prove to American partners that our entrepreneurs are open, dynamic and ambitious. This type of business delegations contribute to economic entry of Slovenia to USA, showing interest I cooperation and establishing stronger economic connections between Slovenia and USA.”

In the evening, the delegation attended the opening of the honorary consulate, where they were greeted by honorary speakers and emphasized that the next step should be a similar business delegation of American business people in Slovenia.

The grand opening of the Honorary Consulate of Republic of Slovenia in Pittsburgh, where Petra Michell took over the position of the Honorary Consul, brought together more than 100 people, among whom also William Pedutto, Pittsburgh Mayor, Danny Roderick, Chairman and CEO at Westinghouse corporation, dr. Božo Cerar, Ambassador of Republic of Slovenia in Washington, Jurček Žmauc, Consul of Republic of Slovenia in Cleveland, and many other eminent guests from business, academic and political life in Pittsburgh.

On the last day of AmCham business delegation, organized by AmCham Slovenia together with SIRIT Public Agency, delegation members visited the global headquarters of Westinghouse. They were addressed by Ron Lewis, vice president of the corporation, in charge of America and new projects. Among other things he pointed out that the Nuclear Power Plant Krško was an important location and that they highly appreciated the depth of knowledge held by Slovene engineers and companies. He emphasized the importance of proactivity of Slovene companies, which could, with the knowledge they possess, become a part of supply chains of big multinational firms.

As the last official visit, members of delegation met with the Slovene National Benefit Society (SNPJ), a non-profit mutual insurance company. It was founded in 1904, therefore it is celebrating an important anniversary this year. To commemorate the founders, SNPJ kept the Slovene initials, which mean Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota, once intended for Slovene immigrants in USA, today an important insurance company that because of its reciprocal character gives back to American community its whole profit in the form of volunteering, scholarships and grants. SNPJ is today one of the most advanced American mutual insurance companies.

Joe Evanish, President of SNPJ, said at the meeting with delegation representatives: “I am glad that your last visit is taking place here with us, we ourselves are attached to Slovenia with special bindings and we are proud that Slovene identity is embedded in our essence.”

Some responses of representatives of Slovene companies:

“It is important to enter the American market, where personal contact and trust-building is even more important than in Europe. In order to be successful, one needs to be present and get to know the potential partner. Market research with a personal connotation brings greater chances for success. A concrete role, larger than in Europe, in the process of finding partners have accelerators, I am therefore happy to have met their representatives and their strategy.”

Marko Drobnič, President of the Board, Talum d.d.

“This business delegation opened many doors to each of the entrepreneurs in this delegation. Even more, we realized that in USA personal contact and arrangements are extremely valuable, that is why personal presence is the key to success in this market.”

Marjan Žargi, CEO, MZK Elektro, d.o.o.

“This delegation has demonstrated what a huge business potential is available through successful entrepreneurs of Slovene origin in Cleveland, USA. We met successful entrepreneurs with Slovene roots, who wish to help Slovenia, are excited about innovative products we presented, and this is also one of the ways to develop Slovene entrepreneurship.”

Matej Feguš, CEO, Donar, d.o.o.

»Ohio and Pennsylvania with their strong industrial support really provide many opportunities for Slovene companies. Everyone in the delegation was impressed by the openness and willingness to network, cooperate and every meeting during this business trip enabled us very concrete business discussions, which has certainly created an extremely positive atmosphere in the delegation.”

Samo Gazvoda, head of development at TECOS

Matej Skočir, M.Sc., Head of Internationalization and foreign investments at SPIRIT Public Agency, expressed that he was greatly satisfied with the course of delegation, as he was certain that proactive approach of Slovene companies when entering such an important market as U.S. market, would bring success and long-term results.

The main organizers of the business delegation to USA were AmCham Slovenia and SPIRIT Public Agency. Supporters of the delegation were also Embassy of Republic of Slovenia to USA, US Embassy in Slovenia, S-ABA and CEED.

More information: Nina Irt, nina.irt@amcham.si