Kent, like a lot of cities, has a sister City — it’s Dudince, Slovakia. I understand that my predecessor actually visited Dudince with a group of northeast Ohioans who have Slovakian roots. I’ve had a chance to get to learn a little about our sister City from Rudy Bachna who is a terrific ambassador between our two cultures. Anyways, to make long story even longer, when I was visiting my family over the holidays back in Rochester, NY, I read an article about how Rochester has taken the sister City concept to a whole new level by signing an agreement to transform an old downtown mall into a new market for goods made by it’s sister city, Parma, Italy. I couldn’t help but wonder what unique goods our sister city could sell here in Kent.
The Rochester Example
Rochester’s Midtown Plaza could get a new life with an Italian flare. The City of Rochester has signed what’s being called a “protocol agreement” with Parma, Italy.
The agreement will explore locating a “Made in Italy” shopping center in Midtown Plaza. The project would transform the old shopping plaza into a busy shopping center with 150 vendors selling high-quality Italian food, clothing, fashion items, and more.
The city says the “Made in Italy” concept would be a destination for shoppers across the state and from outside the area.
“This proposal has considerable potential and would be an exciting rebirth of Midtown,” says Mayor Duffy.
Duffy says the idea is still in the early stages and it will continue to consider other potential uses.
Last month, the City of Rochester paid the owner of Midtown $250,000 for the option to buy the mall for six million dollars. That option expires in February.
I was intrigued by the creativity of the concept to expand what is typically a cultural exchange program to include an economic exchange. So I started wondering what we could import from our sister city into Kent. I’m thinking some cool eastern european stuff in a little shop downtown, or better yet, some of those mineral salt spas that Dudince is known for.
I don’t know the answer but if we’re going to work our way into economic prosperity it will take a lot of creative questions just like this.
Kent – Dudince Sister City Association
1544 Vine Street, Kent Ohio
The Kent-Dudince Sister City Association has been in existence since 2002. The membership has grown to over 200 people.
Highlights of the Association’s activities include:
Representatives from Kent traveled to Dudince in September 2003 and 2006;
Kent Roosevelt High School Choral Ensemble traveled to Dudince in 2004;
Monthly dinner and business meetings with guest speakers and cultural program;
E-mail exchange between elementary and middle school students with their Dudince counterparts;
Gift bags for visiting athletes from Dudince;
Cultural displays at Kent Heritage festival.
General information on Slovakia:
1. Official name of country: Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
2. Area: 49 035 sq km (19 124 sq mi)
3. Length of state border: 1 672 km
4. Population: 5 403 000 (as of December 31, 2000)
5. Capital city: Bratislava (population 452,000)
6. Nationalities: Slovak (85.6%), Hungarian (10.7%), Romany (1.5%), Czech (1%)
7. Official language: Slovak
8. Other languages: Czech & Hungarian, German
9. Religion: Roman-Catholics (60,4%), Lutherans and Evangelists of the Augsburg Confession (6,2%),
Greek-Catholic (3,4%), Calvinists (1,6%), Without denomination (9,8%), Not specified (17,4%)
10. Political system: Parliamentary democracy
11. President: Ivan Gašparovic
12. Prime Minister: Robert Fico
13. Member of EU: Slovak Republic became a member in May, 2004