Pacific Business News (Honolulu, HI)
Posted on June 28, 2000
By Terrence Sing
There are no venture capitalists or angel investors where they come from, but the seven Russian delegates visiting Hawaii this week hope to learn America's best business practices in order to stimulate economic development in their own cities.
The delegates, here as part of the Open World Russian Leadership program sponsored by the U.S. Library of Congress, included representatives from the Republic of Sakha, Velikiy Novgorod and Russia's Sakhalin Island Region.
The program seeks to promote understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation and to assist the federation in its democratic and economic development.
"Basically, we have two goals," Rokotov Vadim Alekseevich, vice chairman of the Committee for International, Overseas Economic and Inter-regional Relations for the Sakhalin Island Region, said through an interpreter. "We would like to see how this interaction between government, business and entrepreneurs happens in Hawaii. In America, this is an established system already. In Russia, the system is only developing. There are still a lot of things that we don't know. And there are a lot of conflicts in Russia. The second role is to see life in Hawaii and the Hawaiian community in general."
It's better to see how the system works in America than to have to learn from one's own mistakes, Alekseevich said.
This is the first time the program has sent delegates to Hawaii, said Cheryl Armenta Lewis, program associate with the National Peace Foundation, which manages the program.
"The program has been going on for three years now, and over that time Russian delegates have visited many different communities on the mainland," Lewis said.
While in Hawaii, the delegates will focus on economic development, said Anne Chipchase, who helped coordinate the delegates' schedule in Hawaii for the NPF.
"We are demonstrating democracy, and in Hawaii that means diversity of opinions, of ways of doing things and of people," she said. "I'm so excited about them coming to Hawaii as opposed to Omaha, Neb. We can model for them what the world is becoming."
Delegates have been meeting with government officials and business leaders and were scheduled to receive an overview of the City and County of Honolulu's operations today.
"It's part of the city and county's global outreach effort for business cooperation, as well as educational and cultural exchanges," said Manny Menendez, executive director of the City and County of Honolulu's economic development department.
"Honolulu is always focused on knowledge-based industries," he said. "We have to reach not just in Asia but outside of Asia. There's a significant amount of business in Asia, but there is also a tremendous amount of business in other places outside of Asia. It's reaching out to the world where we have a fit, such as our environmental technologies, information technology and tourism technologies."
Russian delegates in the Open World Program represent 88 of the country's 89 political regions. The U.S. Congress authorized the project in 1999. Since then, nearly 4,000 delegates have been hosted in 680 communities across America.
While in Hawaii, the delegates stayed with host families.
©Pacific Business News 2002. Used with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Reprinted with Permission]