Italian Consul in Detroit Visits Greater Cincinnati
On May 17, the European American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cincinnati hosted a lunch in honor of Ms. Maria Manca, the Italian Consul based in Detroit, Michigan. This was the Consul’s first visit to Cincinnati, and the lunch was a good opportunity for her to connect with a broad cross-section of the Italian business community in our region. Among those in attendance were executives from Bonfiglioli, Eurostampa, Fameccanica, Luxottica, Mubea, Perfetti Van Melle, Procter & Gamble and Salvagnini America. After a welcome from EACC Board President Yannick Schilly and a brief round of introductions, the Consul explained how she worked with the Italian Embassy in Washington, and the Italian Consulate General and the Italian Trade Agency in Chicago to better understand and advance Italy’s interests in her specific region of responsibility (including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee). She noted that the automotive industry is dominant in this region, but was struck to see the breadth of Italian industries at the table, reflecting the diversity of the Italian economy.
Noting that the Italian presence in our region is growing (for example, the recent acquisition of General Cable in Northern Kentucky by Italy’s Prysmian Group), discussion turned to the needs and interests of the Italian community in the Cincinnati Tri-State region. EACC Executive Director Schwartz said that we already have a French group and an Austrian-Swiss-German group; is it time to create an Italian group? And if so, what would it do? He offered a few suggestions:
- Create programs to help Italian expatriates (and their families) connect to their business peers and the community
- Raising the profile of Italian business in the region
- Organizing recurring networking events (like the l’Aperitif or the Stammtisch)
- Promoting Italian investment in the region
- Supporting development of an EACC Chapter in Italy
- Offering “An Introduction to Italian Business Culture” event for local businesses
Guests noted that while there are some informal groups connecting Italians in the region (for example within P&G), a group like this within the EACC could fill a significant void and build synergies among the Italian community. Noting that a similar effort had faltered in the past, it was suggested that we start cautiously (perhaps calling it an Italian ‘group’ rather than a formal committee). Schwartz also noted that to ensure success we need a core group of individuals willing to invest time and energy developing and pursuing a vision for the group and in defining programs to advance that vision. All agreed that we should push ahead with these discussions.
As a next step, EACC staff will convene a second meeting with the goal of identifying some leadership for the effort and envisioning some program ideas. If you are interested in being part of these discussions, please contact EACC Executive Director Todd Schwartz by e-mail (email@example.com
Very special thanks to our friends at Perfetti Van Melle and at Salvagnini America for sponsoring the lunch with Consul Manca! And also to Antonella Bigi, the Italian Consular Correspondent for Cincinnati who coordinated the invitation to Consul Manca and organized much of the visit.