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International Visitor Leadership Program: WEAmericas Program for Women Entrepreneurs
The WEAMERICAS PROGRAM FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS was established at the 2012 Summit of the Americas. This year, the US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program focused on ways to expand social and economic opportunities for women in support of this effort. The State Department selected Cleveland as one of the stops for a 20 day learning program. The objectives of the program are:
Illustrate the essential role of non-governmental and grass roots organizations in supporting and empowering the development of women-owned businesses;
Explore the role of women-owned businesses in driving economic development, democratization and stabilization around the world;
Highlight the social, economic and political factors that influence and encourage the development of private enterprise in the US.
Five female businesspersons arrived in Cleveland and visited Director Tracey Nichols in the Department of Economic Development: Ms. Rachel Garcia Cruz from Cuba, Ms. Rosa Carranza De Recinos from El Salvador, Ms. Maria Villegas Ibarra from Mexico, Ms. Janny Tercero Cordoba from Nicaragua, Ms. Rosario Dominguez Caceres from Peru and Ms. Macarena Botta Areal from Uruguay.
The women are owners or top executives in companies that included Metals, Consulting, Concrete, Printing, Organic Farm to Table Restaurant and Co-Working Space.
The discussion was lively and Director Nichols discussed how the City had worked with neighborhood groups for our neighborhood development strategy. The group discussed how the City has funded local restaurants and retail, how we have worked in many neighborhoods by starting with one project that we can build from such as taking a vacant building in Ohio City to help a businessperson create the Market Garden Brewery.
Director Nichols also talked about our anchor strategy, using our hospitals, educational institutions and cultural institutions to attract businesses who wanted to locate nearby. We discussed the Health-Tech Corridor and our efforts to attract medical technology businesses. There was a great discussion about creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem to include incubators, co-working space and accelerators and the importance of education and computer skills for today’s economy. There were many questions and the group noted many similarities on strategy and discussed how staying in touch and exchanging ideas would be a positive to all our countries.