Tooele Transcript Bulletin (Tooele, UT)
Posted on September 2, 2003
By Michael Rigert
It’s that time of the year again when students return to classes, football games capture fans’ attention — and Russian delegations journey to Tooele? That’s right. For the second year in a row a delegation of five Russian leaders will be spending a week in Tooele City in an international exchange aimed at sharing ideas and bringing the two nations closer together.
Economic development will be the focus of the Sept. 4-12 visit by senior local officials and non-governmental organization leaders from Tooele’s Russian Sister City, Kambarka, located in the Russian state called the Udmurt Republic.
A Sister City partnership agreement between Tooele and Kambarka was signed in May 2002 when Tooele Mayor Charlie Roberts visited Kambarka. This will be the first visit of Kambarka’s mayor to Tooele. The two cities are comparable in size, with approximately 17,000 citizens residing in Kambarka and 24,000 in Tooele. They face similar environmental challenges and have comparable economic potential.
The five-person delegation includes Georgiy Kislov, mayor of Kambarka and head of the Kambarka District administration; Vladimir Novikov, the director of an information and analysis center that works to increase public awareness of chemical weapons destruction issues; Nadezhda Dolmatova, executive administrator of the Kambarka District Council; and Konstantin Dyakov, secretary of the Voters Union. Yuliya Krotova, a tutor of English from Vladivostok, is accompanying the group as a facilitator.
“We’re excited to have Mayor Kislov and the delegates in town,” Mayor Roberts said. “They’ll have an opportunity to meet with a lot of Tooele citizens and I’m confident they’ll receive a warm Tooele welcome. It will be a great experience for all involved. The program has strengthened the ties between Tooele and Kambarka and will for years to come.”
The Russian group will be hosted in Tooele as part of the Open World Program, managed by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent federal agency located at the Library of Congress. Open World builds mutual understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation by enabling the new generation of Russian leaders to experience American democratic and free enterprise practices firsthand and to exchange views with their American counterparts. Mayor Roberts said local sponsors would be providing most of the meals while the delegation would have breakfast with their Tooele host families.
“(Their visit) is at no charge to city taxpayers,” he said.
The professional program for the Russian group has been developed to reflect these similarities and contribute to the sharing of experience in the areas of business development, city administration, medical care, community and international networking and the impacts upon both cities of being located near chemical weapons stockpiles.
The delegation will spend half a day at Tooele’s city hall examining city operations as well as the way local government and businesses work together to promote economic development. Tooele participants will include Mayor Roberts; Dori Wilkinson, board director of the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce; Randy Sant, the city’s economic development consultant; Shannon Walter, Tooele’s downtown revitalization officer; and Mark Smith, Utah Industrial Depot’s asset manager.
A visit to the Utah Small Business Development Center in Sandy, operated within the framework of a federal program managed by the Small Business Administration, will put these issues into a practical perspective.
A roundtable discussion and luncheon with members of the Tooele Chamber of Commerce, as well as meetings with local business executives and small enterprise owners, will give the Russians an opportunity to compare notes on the strategic and tactical aspects of business start-up and development. The group will visit Transcript-Bulletin Publishing, Mountain West Medical Center, Detroit Diesel, Tooele Dental Associates, Ad-vantage Design, Sew Sweet and Log Furniture Inc.
An important part of the visit will be devoted to various aspects of chemical weapons storage and disposal, an issue equally important for both cities.
The Russians will participate in a question and answer session at the Tooele Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office and learn firsthand about Tooele’s programs at the county’s Emergency Operations Center along with observing the annual emergency exercise.
“They’ll get a broad brush of Tooele and Utah culture in the short amount of time they’re here,” Mayor Roberts said. “They’ve got a very busy schedule.”
Jennifer Andelin of International Hosting has organized the Russians’ visit. This is the second time Tooele has hosted an Open World delegation, the previous exchange was conducted by Andelin a year ago and focused on environmental issues.
International Hosting is the local partner of the Academy for Educational Development (AED), which has received a grant from the Open World Leadership Center to administer this and similar exchanges in 2003. AED is an independent nonprofit organization with expertise in education, research, training, policy analysis, and innovative program design and management.
The Open World Program is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress. Over 7,000 Open World participants from all 89 Russian regions have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program’s inception in 1999. Delegates range from members of the Russian parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. In addition to its economic development theme, Open World sponsors visits focus on rule of law, education reform, the environment, federalism, health, women as leaders and youth issues.
[Reprinted with Permission]