Reprinted from Olympia Business Watch
“Gdansk is one of the most attractive business centers in the world.”
That was the message the city’s mayor, Pawel Adamowicz, delivered Monday, oct 22, 2012 in Seatac during a welcome breakfast for a delegation of visiting Polish business leaders.
The group is in town to share their city’s success story with leaders from such companies as Microsoft, Boeing, Weyerhaeuser and in hopes of persuading more Washington companies to invest in Poland.
They plan to visit the Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser campuses this week and also tour the Boeing plant in Everett.
They have a compelling story to share. Gdansk avoided going through a recession and businesses in the city saw decreased business costs while much of the world was in recession. And the mayor’s claim is backed up by a 2009 report from KPMG identifying emerging destinations report.
Welcome in Polish: Witamy!
A special welcome to Governor Mieczyslaw Struk (governor of Pomerania Province) and to Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk. Thank you all very much for including Seattle in your visit to the United States. I know my good friend Don Brunell assisted with the coordination of your visit, so we are grateful to Don and the Association of Washington Business as well.
And another special welcome to those of you in the delegation who may not have visited our great state before. I know you have just been in the Silicon Valley in California and will go next to Chicago, but part of my job today is to convince you that this region — the Puget Sound— and the State of Washington is the very best.
One reason we are the best is because of our rich diversity. Washington is one of the most diverse states you will find, from geography to business opportunities, to our ethnic populations, languages, our culture and the arts.
It is a state of stunning scenery from mountains to deserts, vast waterways, forests and natural resources. We have many exceptional man-made attractions as well, like our world famous Space Needle, our state’s ferry system, and many outstanding museums and performing arts centers. Seattle’s newest attraction is its Great Wheel, the largest observation wheel on the west coast, standing 175 feet tall with 42 fully-enclosed gondolas.
We are a state with excellent research universities, both public and private, and community colleges that are all equipping their students to work in the global marketplace. These institutions also draw students from around the world to study in our incredible centers of learning.
We are a state that is making a difference around the world, in global health and humanitarian aid, and in related scientific discovery. For instance, we are headquarters for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Vision, PATH, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and many more.
For those of you in the delegation who have been here before I hope you feel like you are visiting an old friend or relative. That is because Poland and the state of Washington are connected in so many ways.
Poland has been one of the most stable of all of the European allies with the United States over the past 23 years. Likewise, we in Washington also have enjoyed a wonderful, stable relationship with Poland in many areas.
Yesterday just marked the end of a nine-day run of the 20th annual Polish Film Festival in Seattle, which featured the Northwest debut of many Polish films.
Three Washington cities have Sister City relationships with Poland. Of course Seattle has a longstanding and active relationship with Gdynia. The city of Lacey, a little to our south, has a sister city relationship with Minsk Mazowiecki.
And one small city, Camas, which is located near our state’s southern border, actually has three sister-city relationships with Poland: Krapkowice, Morawice and Zabierzow. This is because their longtime city administrator lived for a year in Poland about 20 years ago and made it his passion to make these relationships work. To this day Camas has student exchanges with Poland every other year and Camas has also courted business relationships with Poland. There are frequent business delegations that go back and forth.
As Rogers Weed, our state’s director of Commerce, will also tell you in greater detail, the state of Washington is a strategic, global business partner. Washington is the closest port of call to Asian markets and serves markets in Europe as well. As you know, we have here a very active Polish American Chamber of Commerce to promote Polish American industry and innovation. We thank the Polish chamber for their assistance with your visit here too.
Of course, like the Silicon Valley companies you just visited, the state of Washington is known as a hub of technology and innovation, including Microsoft and all of its business partners, and being home of the world’s largest Internet merchant, Amazon.com. Perhaps you have enjoyed a cup of Starbucks coffee in Gdansk. Their worldwide headquarters is here. We are one of the largest regions for video game development and production.
And what company am I not mentioning? Oh, yes, a little aerospace company called Boeing. There are several Boeing executives here with us today, who are no doubt as thrilled as the rest of us are with the impending delivery to LOT Polish Airlines in Warsaw of Boeing’s first 787 Dreamliner to European markets.
It’s my understanding that plane, assembled right here in Washington from parts made around the world, will be delivered sometime in the next few weeks. There is a series of celebratory events planned for here in Seattle around that delivery, including visits by the U.S. Ambassador to Poland and the Polish ambassador to the U.S.
We are also known here in Washington for our agricultural products like apples, cherries, potatoes and wheat. What is really putting us on the map these days, however, is Washington wine. As I always say Washington may be number two among U.S. states in quantity, but we are number one in quality.
We now have 13 distinct wine regions within our state and at last count more than 750 wineries. With us here today are the president and director of resource development for Walla Walla Community College, Dr. Steve Van Ausdle and Doug Bayne, who can tell you all about all of the great things that college is doing to market Washington wine around the world and to train the workforce that produces these high-quality wines.
I have only had time to touch on some of the highlights of our state. The more you look around, the more you will like what you see and hear. We encourage you to take a close look at Washington, to find new ways to partner with us, and return again and again for business and pleasure.
Again, welcome. It is our honor to have you here. May your stay be productive and enjoyable.