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Breakfast Serves Up Ideas for
Business and Community Development

Sen. John Glenn with Caroline ArnoldDominic Martin, Counsellor, Political and Public Affairs of the British Embassy in Washington D.C., with Patricia Nelson, Dean, College of Education, The University of Akron, and two of her staff: Karen Herrington, Office of Assessment and Accreditation, and Suzanne McDonald, Ed. D., Assoc. Prof., Social Foundations of Education.

Fifteen executives representing business, education and government shared perspectives on globalization at ACWA’s Global Executives Breakfast on April 28. Organized by Jane Walker Snider, Executive Director of the Akron Council on World Affairs, the breakfast afforded community leaders the opportunity to discuss their views on globalization with Dominic Martin, Counsellor, Political and Public Affairs of the British Embassy in Washington D.C. The breakfast was part of ACWA’s cycle of programs scheduled over two days and featuring high-profile diplomats directly involved in policy issues.

Mr. Martin’s presentation, “The UK and the US: Partners in Meeting the Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization,” set the tone for the dialogue. Mr. Martin spoke to meeting the challenges and opportunities of globalization through continued cooperation and communication among the international community, and specifically between the US and Britain, who have long-standing historical, industrial and cultural ties.

Key policy areas requiring transatlantic cooperation include: terrorism, climate change, energy, aging population and poverty in undeveloped and underdeveloped countries. These challenges are affecting communities at local, national and international levels. At the same time, these challenges are creating opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, they are influencing change in the status quo as antiquated institutions and business processes are being reinvented to remain relevant and competitive.

Opening the discussion, Dr. Patricia Nelson, Dean of the College of Education of the University of Akron and co-chair of the University’s Internationalization Committee, recently hosted eleven head teachers from Yorkshire. The University is looking to adopt a UK program for curriculum assessment and the visiting teachers were instrumental in supporting this initiative. Dr. Nelson emphasized the importance of benchmarking and looking outside the US for new ideas that work. Dr. Nelson’s comments prompted an exchange of opinions on preparing students to function in a global economy.

Sen. John Glenn with Caroline ArnoldJohn Conti, Councilman-At-Large, City of Akron; Dominic Martin; David Silk, Principal, Silk and Company; Bruce Lowe, Taft, Stettinius Hollister LLP; David Sinclair, President, Advanced Hydro Systems.

John Conti, Vice President and Councilman-At-Large, City of Akron, addressed challenges facing the City’s public elementary and high schools. Programs such as the ACWA’s Global Scholars are instrumental in exposing high school students to international issues and cultures. Comments from participants suggested that an expanded world view is critical to dealing with today’s complex issues and evolving job market.

Jim Matcham of BEI Global (Berea) initiated a discussion on how educational institutions could assist small business by providing access to data and research. The group explored how increased cooperation between business and education would benefit both companies and students by focusing attention on practical applications.

John Myers, Global Marketing Director for ASW Services (Akron) raised the topic of how British politics affects business. David Sinclair, President of Advanced Hydro Solutions (Akron) commented that, “The UK’s refusal to get into economic nationalism creates a positive climate for investment.” Dominic Martin called attention to the prevalence of British business in Ohio. According to Ohio Department of Development statistics, British companies account for $6.15 billion in investment in Ohio. There are 102 British companies located in the State and twenty-nine of those are in Northeast Ohio. There are three British firms in Summit County.

David Silk, Principal, Silk & Company (Cleveland) and Chairman of the British-American Chamber of Commerce, Great Lakes Region expressed concern over “high-skills” immigration issues that are reducing the number of visas granted to degreed individuals with specific job knowledge valuable to US employers. Since autumn 2003, Congress has limited the number of people admitted annually on H1B visas. Mr. Silk indicated that, “Today, H1B visas are limited to 65,000 annually, a drop from 195,000 in the years just prior to the quota reduction.”

Bruce Lowe, Partner, Taft, Stettinius Hollister LLP (Cleveland) and President of the British-American Chamber of Commerce reiterated that the free movement of high-skill workers is desirable and beneficial to bringing new talent and innovation to the area. Moreover, the temporary relocation of mangers and technical personnel is often integral to getting a new facility up and running. The overwhelming consensus among the executives was that more British investment in the area should be welcomed and encouraged.

Thanks go out to all the roundtable participants for sharing their time, opinions and personal experiences. The discussion was moderated by Janet Marcinik, Principal, Topline International (Hudson) and a member of ACWA’s Global Outreach Advisory Committee.

To learn more about ACWA’s programs and to participate in future events, contact Jane Walker Snider at the Akron Council on World Affairs, 330-867-6412, info@akronworldaffairs.org.

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