Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pittsburgh-Based II-VI Inc. Acquires Chinese Fiber Optic Equipment Company

Pittsburgh-based II-VI Inc., maker of precision infrared lenses and specialty optics, said it has agreed to purchase Chinese fiber optic equipment maker Photop Technologies, Inc. for $45.6 million and approximately 1.2 million shares of II-VI common stock. The deal is expected to close in January 2010.

Photop, headquartered in Fuzhou, China with over 3,000 employees, is a vertically-integrated manufacturer of engineered materials, optical components, microchip lasers for visible display applications, and optical modules for use in fiber optic communication networks and other diverse consumer and commercial applications.

"We are excited to partner with Photop to combine efforts and enhance our collective expertise in crystal materials and optics," said Carl J. Johnson, Chairman of II-VI Incorporated.

"Led by its strong, experienced and skilled management team, Photop has developed very impressive technology and a robust component product portfolio in the growing photonics markets and offers immediate access to the growing Chinese markets for engineered materials and components, including the optical communications and micro-optics display markets.

"The combination of II-VI and Photop will benefit our customers, employees and shareholders and will fuel our long-term growth objectives through our stronger presence in China and the rest of the world. Both companies have a passion for technological innovation and close customer engagement, and we look forward to integrating our similar entrepreneurial cultures and achieving future goals together."

Hongrui Wang, Chairman of Photop Technologies, Inc., said: "We are delighted to team with II-VI Inc. We believe that by joining forces with II-VI we will have access to significantly more resources, especially through its VLOC subsidiary and Near-Infrared Optics business, further securing our capabilities on research and product development, sales marketing and manufacturing operations. We are looking forward to a brighter future and greater growth prospects for our company and our employees.”

Upon the closing of the transaction, Photop will be combined with II-VI’s VLOC Inc. subsidiary and Near-Infrared Optics business for financial reporting purposes. This combined group, along with the Compound Semiconductor Group, will be directed by Dr. Vincent D. (Chuck) Mattera, Jr., Vice President of II-VI, who will be promoted to Executive Vice President of II-VI upon the closing of the transaction.

II-VI, the worldwide leader in crystal growth technology, is a vertically-integrated manufacturing company serving the industrial manufacturing, military and aerospace, high-power electronics and telecommunications, and thermoelectronics applications.

Headquartered in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, with manufacturing, sales, and distribution facilities worldwide, the Company produces numerous crystalline compounds including zinc selenide for infrared laser optics, silicon carbide for high-power electronic and microwave applications, and bismuth telluride for thermoelectric coolers.

Established in 2003 through a merger of four companies, each a leader in its respective product field of Optics, Lasers, Fiber Optics and Photonic Crystal Materials, Photop Technologies, Inc. is a leading photonics design and integrated manufacturing company of Fiber Optics, Precision Optics, Projection and Display Optics, Solid-State Lasers, Crystal Materials and other Photonics Products.

Headquartered in Fuzhou, China, with over 3,000 employees including 350 dedicated engineers in Fuzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Photop is dedicated to continually-growing its technology platform, highly-efficient manufacturing infrastructure, volume production capability and capacity, advanced design knowledge, and leading-edge research and development.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

GlobalPittsburgh, Formerly PCIV, Celebrates 50 Years of Citizen Diplomacy and New Opportunities

Volunter Mary Larson hosted the man who would later become the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Marge Simonds received an ancient bowl from a French visitor she and her husband hosted in the early 1960s, and discovered that it had been intended for President John F. Kennedy.

These and other stories were told during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of GlobalPittsburgh, formerly known as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, the organization for which these and hundreds of others Pittsburgh-area residents have welcomed members of foreign delegations into their homes and showed around the region during the last five decades.

More than 150 hosts, volunteers, friends and supporters of GlobalPittsburgh gathered Dec. 21 at LeMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington to celebrate and reminisce about the many memorable encounters, long-lasting friendships and other connections made possible through the organization since its founding.

"All of this has been a wonderful, wonderful experience," said Simonds, who is now in her 90s.

Mary Larson recalled how she was invited to visit Gordon Brown, whom she hosted when he was a Member of Parliament in the mid-1980s, during a trip to London when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown became British Prime Minister in 2007.

"We did keep in touch, but I haven't heard from him much lately, because he has been a little busy, I guess," she told the group.

Frances Cohen-Knoerdel recalled an ongoing friendship she and her husband made with a visitor in 1972, when they hosted a Finnish student attending Carnegie Mellon University. They maintained contact with the student and will travel to Finland this summer to attend his son's wedding, she said.

The circle was completed, she said, when another visitor from Japan, with whom she also had developed a friendship, told her he was traveling for business to Finland. Cohen-Knoerdel suggested he meet her Finnish friend, and another friendship was formed.

"The world is not really that big," she said.

The program included a retrospective by Heinz History Center President Andy Masich of events in Pittsburgh and around the world at the time of GlobalPittsburgh-PCIV's founding in 1959, the year that Castro came to power in Cuba, the Barbie doll was introduced, Hawaii became the 50th state, and Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Kruschchev engaged in their Kitchen Debate.

The evening was highlighted by music from the Celtic duo of Merry Loves the Fiddle, the Brazilian jazz vocals of Lily Abreu and two songs by Jueyin Wang of Wuhan, China.

The event was generously underwritten by Anna and Ed Dunlap, owners of LeMont.

CLICK HERE to view more photos of the evening.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Citizen Diplomats On The Road: From Western Pennsylvania to Vietnam, With Love

J. Ross Stewart, Pittsburgh-born and educated, made a trip to Vietnam from December 3 through 21, 2009, that included meetings with family, friends and business contacts. He was asked to journal his experiences and to provide insight into Vietnamese culture from both a personal and business perspective. Stewart currently serves as a Contracts Administrator for Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) that is headquartered in Johnstown, PA, about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh. The views expressed here are his own.

Part I – Journey Over and Arrival
On Dec. 3, I embarked on what would be my seventh trip to Vietnam in five years.

For background, I will tell you a little about me and why I am traveling to Vietnam, and have been traveling so frequently. My wife, Tam Nguyen Stewart, is originally from Vietnam, and since we were married in July 2006 we've made annual trips back to visit with my in-laws who live in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

These trips have become even more important as we now have an infant daughter who gets to spend more time with her maternal grandparents, and vice versa. We also meet with friends and business contacts on these trips, and are always looking for ways to help build cultural and business bridges between Vietnam and the Greater Pittsburgh region.

I was born in Pittsburgh where my parents were working at the time, my father for Price Waterhouse and my mother as a teacher, and grew up in Johnstown where I currently live and where my parents also grew up. I spent nearly seven years getting my education in Pittsburgh, as well, earning my Bachelor’s Degree and Juris Doctor (law degree) from the University of Pittsburgh. I consider Pittsburgh like my second home.

I will attempt through these blog posts to provide a glimpse of the modern day Vietnam through the eyes of a born-and-raised western Pennsylvanian, and to help readers understand a little bit more about the culture from both a personal and business perspective. While everything is not perfect in Vietnam, and there is still work to be done, there are many positive developments on multiple fronts taking place throughout the country.

Though the trip from Johnstown to Ho Chi Minh City has been long -- 25-plus hours with a very short layover in Washington Dulles and Tokyo Narita airports -- everything has gone smoothly and uneventfully.

It is a treat to arrive at the newer Tan Son Nhat International terminal, and the deplaning, immigration, baggage claim and customs processes are very quick and efficient. Once you pass through customs and proceed out of the terminal on to the street, not only are you greeted by the intense heat which I have heard likened to a blast furnace, something to which those who have labored in our region’s historical basic industries of iron and steel can relate, but you are also greeted with one of your first tastes of Vietnamese culture – the throngs of people who gather at the terminal exit.

At first, you might think that you are being greeted as some sort of rock star or world leader. It is in fact, however, the Vietnamese cultural custom that the entire extended family travels to the airport to greet family members who are arriving for a visit.

When you take the fact that Ho Chi Minh City has a growing population of 8 million people, you soon realize that there are a lot of family members greeting a lot of visiting family members. This crowd at Tan Son Nhat makes a crowded, sunny summer Saturday afternoon in the Strip District in Pittsburgh look like a desolate ghost town.

Of course, my case is no different, as my wife and infant daughter (who traveled over a few weeks before me), as well as my mother-in-law and father-in-law come to greet me upon my arrival. Overall, I will be in Vietnam for a little under three weeks.

It is easy to experience the importance of family and relationships in Vietnam. Taking the time to build relationships is important not just to family life, but also to business in Vietnam and in Asia in general.

Part II – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
In many ways, Ho Chi Minh City is comparable to New York City, from a population of around 8 million, to being divided into “Districts” (like New York City’s five boroughs), and so on.

My in-laws live in District 1, which is the Manhattan, so to speak, of Ho Chi Minh City’s districts. Both of my in-laws are retired C-level executives with Electricity of Vietnam (EVN).

While Ho Chi Minh City is comparable to New York City, it also has the French colonial-era touches of Paris from the city’s layout and design, and colonial-era architecture. The luxury shops of Louis Vuitton and others that line Dong Khoi Street in the heart of District 1 have the feel of a combination of Fifth Avenue in New York City and Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The Protestant Church that we attend while in Ho Chi Minh City is Hoi Thanh Tin Lanh at 155 Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1, which is part of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam. The service for this church is very similar to that of a Baptist church in western Pennsylvania.

What is interesting about this church is that though the service is understandably in Vietnamese, the church also provides a real-time translation of the service into English. The first half-dozen pews on the right-hand side of the sanctuary have headphone jacks for the headphones that a visiting foreigner is provided when they enter the sanctuary.

The service has the feel of both being in church and being in a meeting at the United Nations in New York City. The church is growing both in native Vietnamese and expats, and will soon need to consider adding additional services or building a bigger sanctuary.

I had traded emails with Fred Burke, Managing Partner of the law firm Baker & McKenzie Vietnam before I left for Vietnam, and had planned to meet up with him once in Vietnam. Fred invited me and my wife, Tam, who has a Master’s Degree in International Business from France, and has worked in Europe, Vietnam and the U.S., to attend the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City Chapter Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the New World Hotel.

We enjoyed learning more about AmCham Vietnam in the meeting through the Chairman, Tom Seibert’s, presentation, and also had a chance to meet a lot of interesting people. The meeting was attended by a large number of the Board of Governors who represent a Who’s Who among the American business and legal circles in Vietnam. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, including Consul General Kenneth Fairfax and Economic Officer Douglas Sonnek.

Fred Burke gave a brief but very interesting overview of the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s “Project 30,” with which Fred is involved as the AmCham Vietnam’s delegate on the Prime Minister’s fifteen-member Advisory Council on Administrative Procedure Reform.

According to briefing materials Fred provided:

“Project 30 is the Prime Minister’s high profile program for the simplification of administrative procedures. Launched in 2007, it is entering its final year, in which the inventory and assessment work already done is intended to produce a dramatic streamlining of the administrative environment. This is intended to reduce red tape, corruption and make Vietnam’s business environment more competitive with its regional and global competitors.

"As far as the business community is concerned, Project 30 depends entirely on the voluntary contributions and lobbying of enterprises like FedEx. With their detailed input on the administrative procedures that hinder their business development, and their constructive suggestions for improvements, Project 30 in and of itself will not address their needs. What Project 30 does is provide an opportunity for interested enterprises to put their suggestions through a mechanism where they will be assured serious consideration.

"Currently, the Prime Minister’s 15 member Advisory Council on Administrative Procedure Reform, on which the American Chamber of Commerce has a delegate, is conducting working group meetings on specific subject matter areas including customs and trade. By October 15th, these working groups will have completed submissions for recommending reforms to several hundred administrative procedures that have been identified as "priority" items for reform. The next round of working group meetings will lead up to a second round of cuts in February, 2010.

"The Project is funded by USAID, among others, and strongly supported by the US Embassy in Hanoi, as well as the Vietnam Competitiveness Institute. The Prime Minister has invested substantial capital in the Project and it is therefore hoped that it will achieve its objectives.”

Part III – Hanoi
If Ho Chi Minh City is the New York City of Vietnam, then Hanoi is the Washington, D.C. in many respects. Not only is Hanoi the capital and therefore the seat of the nation’s government, but it is also considerably smaller than Ho Chi Minh City (a population of around 6.5 million compared to Ho Chi Minh City’s 8 million) and much more a government hub and less a commercial hub, as well.

As we leave Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, and step out on to the street, you are not met with the relative chaos and crowds that you experience at Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City, which is nice. For one thing, the airport is nearly 30 miles outside of Hanoi, which is about twice the distance from Downtown Pittsburgh to Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

As mentioned, the population of Hanoi is significantly smaller than Ho Chi Minh City. Furthermore, it is clear that the culture of northern Vietnam is much more subdued and laid back than the hustle and bustle of the south, especially from a business standpoint.

There were many relatives who came to greet us at the airport, including several aunts, uncles and cousins. We pile into two cars and head to the city for our first night of many gatherings at family homes.

As discussed in earlier, it is easy to see the importance of family and relationships in Vietnam. Taking the time to build relationships is important not just to family life, but also to business in Vietnam and in Asia in general.

One of the chief criticisms against western businesspeople made by their Vietnamese counterparts is the desire of the westerners to meet and get straight to business. In Vietnam, as in Asia in general, it is important to take the time to build personal relationships with the Vietnamese business counterparts. Doing so properly takes a concerted effort of time, resources and multiple visits and meetings in order to cultivate the relationship.

It is clear that Hanoi has work to do to improve its service and business sector to the level of its southern counterpart. One brief example would be an experience we had taxi drivers in Hanoi. While there are some good taxi drivers, there are also laughably (after the fact) bad ones. When we were going to attend services at the landmark Cua Bac (Northern Gate) Church, one of the landmark Catholic churches in Hanoi, we knew the general vicinity where the church was located, but not the exact street or address or how to get to the church.

Of course, we could have looked that information up on the internet, but figured it was not necessary given the landmark nature of the church. It would be like asking a taxi driver in Pittsburgh to take you to the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The front desk clerk at our hotel recommended a specific taxi company to use, and we did.

When we got into the car, the taxi driver indicated that he knew where the church was and how to get there. Fifteen minutes later, he stopped in the middle of a street with no church in sight, only to indicate in Vietnamese that we were at our desired destination. When my wife pressed him further, he indicated that he did not know where the church was located.

What Hanoi does have in abundance is beautiful vistas, from the serene, peaceful and ancient beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake (despite its downtown location), to further examples of exquisite French colonial architecture such as the Hanoi Opera House.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Half Century of Citizen Diplomacy: A Unique Public-Private Sector Partnership Connects Pittsburgh with the World

By Sherry Mueller
President, National Council for International Visitors

One of the most dramatic and best publicized examples of citizen diplomacy in action was celebrated in August---the 50th anniversary of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's visit to the Garst family farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa. The meeting of these unlikely friends was the result of what Roswell Garst called "full belly diplomacy."

He believed that people with a standard of living they wanted to protect would be less likely to go to war. Therefore, the United States had a vested interest in the success of Soviet agriculture. When Garst met a delegation of Soviet officials in Iowa touring farms in 1955, he realized that techniques he had developed on his 2,600-acre farm could improve productivity on large Soviet collective farms. When he applied for an export license for seed corn and agricultural equipment, he was met with skepticism by government officials who warned him he would not receive a warm welcome behind the Iron Curtain.

Garst promptly proved them wrong. Described as gregarious, expansive, and even "flamboyant," he became something of an instant celebrity as he toured farms and gave lectures on increasing grain yields, so much so that he was unexpectedly invited to meet Premier Khrushchev himself; the two were said to have hit it off immediately.

During the next four years Garst made two more trips to the USSR and hosted a number of Soviet agronomists in Iowa. Still, the announcement that Khrushchev would visit the Garst farm during his landmark trip to the United States in 1959 -- the first from a Soviet head of state -- undoubtedly surprised many. But when one considers that Garst's efforts helped to increase Soviet grain production substantially between 1956 and 1958, it is little wonder that Khrushchev was eager to see Garst's operations for himself.

Garst's belief, particularly prevalent during the Cold War and still valid, was that private citizens can build constructive relationships across international boundaries when governments are often constrained by official policies and historic precedents. Secretary of State Dean Rush echoed this notion at the 1965 NCIV National Conference when he addressed community leaders from across the country who organized programs for foreign leaders in the US Department of State's International Visitor Program:

"The government simply can't do what you are doing. We cannot render that kind of individual, sensitive, and personalized service such as you can and do render in your own communities."

The National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), one of the pioneering organizations practicing citizen diplomacy, is marking its 50th anniversary with a sequence of events and initiatives. GlobalPittsburgh (formerly the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors) also is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

In the United States one of our fundamental cultural beliefs is that the individual has the power to make a positive difference -- to be the impetus for change in various endeavors, from banning landmines to building relationships among leaders of various societies. Building constructive and enduring relationships among leaders across national boundaries is critically important because it is within that web of human connections that progress on urgent global issues, such as conflict resolution and pandemic infection prevention, occurs.

It is no surprise then that the idea of citizen diplomacy is deeply rooted in the United States. The mission of many nonprofit organizations to enable individuals to contribute directly to world peace, international understanding, and cooperation has produced an array of programs and projects that are genuine grassroots efforts to address common problems and build enduring connections among the people of various countries.

NCIV's half century of leadership in the field serves as a case study to explore citizen diplomacy, its relationship to public diplomacy, and its often underestimated, but nonetheless far-reaching, impact.

Citizen Diplomacy vis-a-vis Public Diplomacy

While the primary focus of this article is to describe one of America's most valuable public diplomacy programs and how its success hinges on the remarkable contributions of citizen diplomats, it is important to emphasize that, like the initiative of Roswell Garst, most citizen diplomacy activities extend well beyond public diplomacy programs.

Citizen diplomacy is the concept that, in a vibrant democracy, the individual citizen has the right -- even the responsibility -- to shape foreign relations, as some NCIV members express it, "one handshake at a time." The term "citizen diplomacy" has been around for a long time. In fact, it predates the term "public diplomacy" (first coined in the 1960s by Ambassador Edmund Gullion, Dean of the Fletcher School) which has received so much scrutiny in recent years.

President Dwight Eisenhower convened the White House Summit on Citizen Diplomacy on September 11, 1956. Acutely aware of the devastation and horrific costs of war, Eisenhower thought that peace was everyone's business. He stated:

"If we are going to take advantage of the assumption that all people want peace, then the problem is for people to get together and to leap governments -- if necessary to evade governments -- to work out not one method but thousands of methods by which people can gradually learn a little bit more of each other."

The international exchange organizations, People to People International and Sister Cities International, were established as a result of this historic gathering. These organizations are still active today coordinating exchange programs and humanitarian projects around the world.

Programs like these are what usually come to mind when citizen diplomacy is mentioned -- privately funded international exchange activities such as sending a student abroad on an Experiment in International Living summer program, hosting an AFS student, going overseas to live with a family as part of a Friendship Force delegation, or participating in a Partners of the Americas development project. Whether guests or hosts, exchange program participants embody citizen diplomacy.

While such programs are at the heart of citizen diplomacy, the term encompasses so much more. In 1958 when Elvis Presley landed in Germany wearing his army uniform, he told reporters that "what we do here will reflect on America and our way of life." When one thinks about Elvis, citizen diplomacy does not leap to mind. Yet he clearly was conscious of the fact that he had a responsibility to put his country's best foot forward as he interacted with foreign nationals.

Whether one is a rock star, athlete, student, tourist, or business representative, each of us should be aware that our actions shape foreigners' impressions of our country and ultimately shape their decisions affecting America's security and prosperity. This awareness that our behavior matters as we go about our daily activities is the essence of citizen diplomacy.

Over the years the number of organizations that include citizen diplomacy in their names, mission statements, and programs has multiplied. For example, five NCIV community members use the term in their names, with the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy leading the way.

In the 21st century, citizen diplomacy is continuing to gain attention, finding its way into more public speeches, legislation, and "smart power" discussions. One major reason for this is the sequence of events triggered by 9/11 and the severely tarnished American image around the world that generated alarm from Main Street to Madison Avenue.

In March 2004, a group of concerned leaders, primarily heads of exchange organizations, gathered at the Johnson Foundation Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin. During a three-day forum, participants debated how to expand exponentially the number of Americans engaged in citizen diplomacy, recognize the accomplishments of outstanding citizen diplomats, and identify new public and private resources for international exchange and development programs. They decided to convene a national summit and to urge local leaders across the country to do the same -- convene the heads of organizations and agencies with international missions in their communities and organize community summits on citizen diplomacy.

To date, two National Summits on Citizen Diplomacy have taken place. The first preceded the Sister Cities Conference in 2006; the second preceded the NCIV National Conference in February 2008. More than 70 community summits from Miami to Seattle have also taken place. Participants searched for ways to create synergy among their organizations, increase global literacy, and publicize opportunities to serve as citizen diplomats.

President Obama's emphasis on the importance of public service has also added momentum to the citizen diplomacy movement. Citizen diplomacy organizations offer many ways to serve our communities, our country, and our fragile planet. A coalition of organizations spearheaded by the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy, founded in 2006 in Des Moines, Iowa, is urging President Obama to convene another White House Summit on Citizen Diplomacy.

NCIV and the IVLP

Many define public diplomacy as the efforts of a government to influence public opinion abroad -- particularly the opinions of perceived decision makers. US public diplomacy encompasses many information activities, ranging from Voice of America broadcasts to the live Web chats sponsored by the State Department's Alumni Affairs Office. It also includes a panoply of international exchange programs, ranging from the Department of Defense International Military Education Training Program to the Fulbright Program sponsored by the US Department of State. Some State Department programs are dependent on public-private sector partnerships and the unique combination of public and private funding, manpower -- including essential volunteer labor -- and collaboration that characterize this creative administrative arrangement.

A Congressional appropriation funds the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The State Department selects and orients the foreign leaders who participate in the IVLP, but department officials work closely with their private-sector partners -- NCIV members -- to design national itineraries and custom tailor each program to the group or individual's professional and cultural interests.

The overarching goals of the IVLP are to enable visitors to develop more nuanced and realistic views of the American people, our history and heritage, and to facilitate professional dialogues among foreign leaders and their US counterparts.

Through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of State's Office of International Visitors, NCIV administers a grant program enabling its community-based members to carry out these activities. For each federal dollar received, NCIV members raise six dollars locally to support their work with the IVLP. This does not include the in-kind contributions or the value of volunteer efforts; it is estimated that more than 80,000 volunteers are involved in NCIV network activities each year. They serve as professional resources, board members, home hosts, drivers, volunteer programmers, financial contributors, and office volunteers.

While the numbers are impressive they are only part of the story. The high caliber of these volunteer citizen diplomats is key to the program's long-term success. Ambassador Andrew Young volunteers for the Georgia Council for International Visitors; Dr. Joseph Shirley, President of the Navajo Nation, is a volunteer for the Albuquerque Council for International Visitors. Ambassador Mary Kramer, recently inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame and a member of the Council of American Ambassadors, serves on the board of the Iowa Council for International Understanding (ICIU), NCIV's member in Des Moines. Ambassador Kramer and her husband served as home hosts before her tenure as ambassador, and now continue to do so. Reflecting on service as both an official diplomat and a citizen diplomat, Ambassador Kramer remarked:

"After living overseas, you come to understand that people have an important role in diplomacy, whether they are aware of it or not. Organizations such as the ICIU and NCIV are an essential part of US public diplomacy. I saw firsthand how visitors returned home with much greater appreciation of the United States and its ethnic, geographic, and political diversity---as well as its democratic institutions."

Firsthand encounters with citizen diplomats trump grim headlines and stereotypical sound bites. An Albany volunteer offered this description of his family's experience hosting a delegation from Uganda capturing the impact of citizen diplomacy:

"These visits are worth gold to US public diplomacy. Not only do they allow for visitors to meet their peers in the United States (and hopefully remain in touch with many of them) and gather important professionally relevant information they can take home, the IVLP is also an important way for Americans to meet people from parts of the world they are unlikely to visit themselves. The US population remains woefully uninformed about international affairs and this has serious implications for foreign policy and funding for foreign assistance---as well as the ability of Americans to appreciate and participate in globalization.

The IVLP makes these issues less a matter for The New York Times and more a conversation over a dinner table, a small meeting in an office, and a friendship begun that might last for decades. Yes, high-level diplomacy has its place and it requires trained professionals to carry it out. But it must be buttressed by the engagement of non-professionals who can meet and exchange views in informal settings that defuse the intense politics that often dominate official meetings. US foreign policy cannot live on Track II diplomacy alone, but it also can't live without it. As the conversations over my dinner table last week proved, serious issues can be addressed in informal venues and all involved are the better for it. Citizen diplomacy is good for diplomacy---and for the citizens who engage in it. This is quiet and unheralded work but it deserves the continued (and increased) support of the US government."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GlobalPittsburgh Expanding Into New Downtown Offices

GlobalPittsburgh will expand its presence in Downtown Pittsburgh when it moves into new offices in Centre City Tower at 650 Smithfield Street, effective Jan. 1, 2010.

Formerly known as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, GlobalPittsburgh will relocate to larger quarters to accommodate a larger staff and expanded mission to host international delegations to the Region, as well as welcome international students, professionals and short-term residents with a regular schedule of programs and activities, according to Roger Cranville, GlobalPittsburgh's Chairman and President.

"Our goal is to serve companies and organizations in the Pittsburgh Region by hosting foreign delegations and facilitating introductions and channels of communication that we believe will enhance the opportunity for professional, commercial and academic partnerships and economic growth," Cranville said.

Pittsburgh has been rapidly gaining a positive international reputation as a leader in economic and environmental revitalization, and is well positioned to show off its centers of excellence in a wide variety of fields, he said.

"Since the announcement of the G-20 Summit earlier this year and the hosting of World Environment Day on June 5, 2010, Pittsburgh is brightly visible on the radar screens of decision makers around the world, especially in Europe and Asia," Cranville said. "It is now up to Pittsburgh to make the most of this worldwide interest, and GlobalPittsburgh is on the leading edge of that effort."

GlobalPittsburgh works with the U.S. Department of State and other international organizations to arrange and coordinate visits by foreign individuals and delegations interested in learning more about Pittsburgh’s centers of excellence, including energy, technology, health sciences, green design and education, and in studying the region’s economic and environmental transformation.

GlobalPittsburgh will vacate its current offices in the Regional Enterprise Tower at 425 Sixth Avenue at the end of December, Cranville said.

GlobalPittsburgh's new address:
Centre City Tower
650 Smithfield Street, Suite 1180
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

For more information, go to

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Former British Trade Minister Believes Pittsburgh Region Well Positioned to Lead Growth in Global Economy, Asian Expansion

The Pittsburgh Region is in a prime position to capitalize on an increasingly global economy, growth in Asia, and other current developments around the world, due in large part to its success in reinventing itself and emerging as an international competitor, according to Lord Digby Jones, former British Trade Minister, who will speak in Pittsburgh Dec. 15.

“I’ve been coming to Pittsburgh two or three times a year since 1989, and I have seen it grow and develop and change,” he said in a recent telephone interview with Thomas Buell, Jr. of GlobalPittsburgh. “It is now a global exemplar of reconstruction and restructuring. It’s one of those cities in the world that have just shown the world how it can be done.

“I think if you’re an exporting city, if you’re open to investment, and if you understand globalization, a getting-richer developing world can only benefit America and especially Pittsburgh,” he said.

Lord Jones served as Minister for Trade and Investment at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and at the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory from June 2007 to October 2008, and as Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, the UK’s "Voice of Business," from 2000 to 2006.

He will speak in Pittsburgh on the topic of "Global Innovation: Building Synergies in Tough Economic Times" at the luncheon meeting of the Economic Club of Pittsburgh in cooperation with the British American Business Council - Pittsburgh Chapter.

The Dec. 15 event will be held at the Omni William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place, Downtown, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Tickets are $30 for members, $40 for non-members and $20 for students. Tables of eight are $220. Reservations are required. For reservations, send email to

During the interview excerpted here, Lord Jones also touched on several other topics.

On Pittsburgh’s economic transformation:

“It was this enormous steel manufacturing entity and it’s now an exemplar for health care, universities, for tomorrow’s knowledge-based economy, and so many other developing world cities, and quite a few in America actually, don’t do it – they don’t put the ball in the net. They don’t actually get there.”

The importance of the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit:

“I think hosting the G-20 Summit could be nothing but good. People didn’t talk about the G-20 being held in America, they talked about the G-20 being held in Pittsburgh. That means that sadly some people said ‘Where’s that?’ but that’s great because it means you’ve converted more people to knowing where it is - that’s good. And secondly to those who know Pittsburgh, they can say that’s changed and that’s excellent. And to the citizens of Pittsburgh, now they think, ‘Hey, we matter,’ and you can’t effect change without basic morale. You need the citizens of the city to think, ‘Hey, this is mine,’ and I think it did that big time.”

On the benefits of a global economy:

“America got richer after she was no longer a colony, and turned out to be the U.K.’s biggest investor and our biggest consumer (after it became a global economic power). There is no reason whatsoever that an India or a Brazil or a China can’t be same for America and for Pittsburgh. What you need is courageous leadership.”

On opportunities created by the green movement:

“Once America starts to solve that issue by the use of knowledge and funded research, the world had better watch out because she’s the one that can solve this. It puts the gantlet down to China and India and says we got rich polluting the world, and we’re going to help you get rich without polluting the world, and Pittsburgh has set the way. It’s the sort of city that has said ‘You can do it.’

“I was in Wuhan, China, which is a city of 12 million people, and it’s terribly polluted. I said we’ve got to enable you to become rich by being clean, so watch a city that’s done it, and that’s Pittsburgh. I didn’t even know that (Wuhan was Pittsburgh’s sister city). How’s that for an unsolicited endorsement?”

(Parts of this interview appeared in the Pittsburgh Business Times on Dec. 4, 2009)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corporate-Academic Alliance Formed to Promote Pittsburgh Region as Global Energy Leader

The newly formed Energy Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania will advance a regional energy strategy by coordinating with existing activities and organizations to improve the climate for energy industry success and job creation.

Guided by CEOs of 14 energy-related firms and universities, and staffed primarily by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Innovation Works, the Alliance will be a virtual organization focused on developing and executing a strategy for Pittsburgh regional energy industry growth.

The Alliance was announced at the Dec. 1 Annual Meeting of the Allegheny Conference.

Through shared policy, advocacy, project coordination, company funding as well as communications and marketing efforts, the Alliance will position the southwestern Pennsylvania region as a global leader in energy innovation, production and related manufacturing.

In so doing, it will assist the growth of the energy industry in the region's economy - retaining existing jobs, creating new ones and enabling prosperity for all residents.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Economy League conducted an analysis of the energy industry in southwestern Pennsylvania and identified seven sectors in which the region's strengths are already greater than other regions around the country.

The Energy Alliance will include activity in all seven:
- Traditional Energy
- Coal
- Natural Gas
- Nuclear
- Alternative Energy
- Solar Wind
- Conservation and Distribution Systems
- Transmission & Distribution
- Intelligent Building Technologies

"With strengths across a diversified energy industry, our region is in an excellent position to execute a comprehensive strategy of economic growth and job creation," said Allegheny Conference Chair John P. Surma.

"We’re proud to join with the Conference in creating the Alliance and offering guidance, support and funding for the latest innovations in energy," said Innovation Works CEO Rich Lunak. "Our energy sector holds great promise for the commercialization of technologies that will help meet the world’s energy challenges. Innovation Works has a strong track record in developing start-up companies and bringing products to market. We’re looking forward to the contributions we can make to growing our region’s energy economy."

The announcement follows on an open letter issued earlier this year as G-20 leaders convened here to discuss the global economy. On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, an unprecedented group of Pittsburgh-based energy companies and universities stepped forward to share their commitment to our growing energy economy.

In an open letter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the leadership from all seven sectors and the universities acknowledged the growing global energy demand and pledged to find the solutions to the world’s energy challenges together. “We believe that Pittsburgh will play a leading role in creating the new energy economy,” they said.

(CLICK HERE to read the open letter.)

The formation of the Energy Alliance demonstrates the commitment of business leaders across the seven components of the energy sector to work together to provide sustainable energy solutions, said Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky.

"Pittsburgh’s historic spirit of collaboration, diversity of energy resources and innovation know-how uniquely positions our region to create and implement a 21st century energy economy," he said.

"Energy companies, universities and organizations within our region bring two critical abilities to helping meet the world’s energy challenges. Our expertise in materials science, engineering, and nuclear energy can make the extraction and use of traditional energy sources cleaner and more efficient. Our historic strength in innovation holds great potential for developing distributed energy generation and delivery models, pioneering intelligent building systems, and finding cost-effective alternative technology solutions," Yablonsky said.

The energy sector in the Pittsburgh region is responsible for:
- A $13.7 billion contribution to our regional Gross Domestic Product
- Ten percent of our regional economy 105,000 direct/indirect jobs
- One-fourth of 2009 business expansion projects and
- More than $1 billion in public and private R&D annually

Southwestern Pennsylvania sits atop extensive energy industry resources including coal and the natural gas from within the Marcellus Shale.

According to a recent Penn State University report (CLICK HERE to view report), the Marcellus Shale is the largest unconventional natural gas reserve in the world with recoverable reserves estimated to be at least 489 trillion cubic feet.

In 2008, the Marcellus gas industry in Pennsylvania generated $2.3 billion in total value added and more than 29,000 jobs. The pace of development and extraction is expected to increase and by 2020, the Marcellus Shale activity is forecast to be generating $13.5 billion in value added and almost 175,000 jobs.

The region is also well positioned in its innovation resources as they include the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), one of a handful of federal Department of Energy research centers nationwide and the only one devoted to fossil fuel research including the future of carbon capture and sequestration.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

British-Owned Conveyor Belt Maker Relocates Corporate Headquarters to Pittsburgh from Atlanta - Boosts Region's Energy Sector

Fenner Dunlop Americas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fenner PLC, a UK public company, has moved its corporate headquarters to the Pittsburgh area from suburban Atlanta.

The company said it wanted to be close to its North American belting product manufacturing facilities in both Ohio and Canada, as well as to key locations in newly acquired service businesses – including Conveyor Service Corporation in Blairsville, Indiana County, which it acquired last year – and major customer regions.

"Operating from Pittsburgh puts Fenner Dunlop at the heart of its North American business, allowing for optimal business management," said Cassandra Pan, president of Fenner Dunlop Americas. "We’re close to where it’s all happening and closer to our customers."

The headquarters relocation is expected to create approximately 40 jobs including several executives relocating from Atlanta and several new local hires. In addition to the efforts of the local commercial real estate firm NAI Pittsburgh, other development partners including the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Allegheny County Economic Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance worked collaboratively in support of this business investment win.

The company plans to lease 15,000 square feet of office space in the Omega Corporate Center in Robinson Township.

Founded in 1861 in the UK, the company primarily manufactured leather belting. Today, Fenner Dunlop has operations across Europe, North and South America, Australia, China, India and South Africa and attributes much of its substantial growth to a number of major acquisitions over the last 30 years.

Fenner Dunlop provides total conveyor belt solutions to the coal and hard rock mining industry for surface and underground mines worldwide. As such a provider, the company is now integrated into the Pittsburgh region’s energy economy, which comprises innovation leadership and supply chain expertise across traditional and alternative energy sectors.

One of these sectors is coal — a fossil fuel found in ample supply in the Pittsburgh region, where public and private R&D abounds to advance clean coal technology. CONSOL Energy Inc., world-headquartered in Washington County, is the largest producer of high-Btu bituminous coal in the United States and a major customer of Fenner Dunlop.

"Fenner Dunlop conveyor belts and the steel structures on which the belts ride are the principal ways that CONSOL moves coal from its mines. We have literally hundreds of miles of Fenner Dunlop belting in our mines, as well as overland belts. These allow CONSOL to meet its customers’ demands for coal - a fuel staple now and for the future," said CONSOL Energy CEO Brett Harvey, who also chairs the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Partnership.

"CONSOL Energy is pleased that one of its major vendors has made the decision to join the almost 800 energy-related companies that call the Pittsburgh region home," he said.

"During the recent Pittsburgh [G-20] Summit, President Obama hailed Pittsburgh for its transformation to a model 21st-century economy. That economy includes leadership related to energy—both traditional and alternative," said Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

"Our innovative edge, coupled with a historic expertise in manufacturing, is amassing a diverse and robust energy supply chain in the region. For that and other reasons, companies like Fenner Dunlop have strategically selected southwestern Pennsylvania – a place gaining recognition as the nation’s new energy capital. From Pittsburgh, these companies are operating to supply the resources, products and components that will ultimately influence the delivery of energy – not only domestically, but globally – in efficient and more sustainable ways," he said.

With the mining industry as a primary customer, Fenner Dunlop also recognizes that the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center in Bruceton, PA – just south of Pittsburgh – played a part in the company’s relocation decision.

"Nationally and internationally, conveyor belt fire safety in underground mines is a critical concern," Pan said. "Fenner Denlop is at the forefront of belt fire safety and believes it’s strategic to be close to the organization that is uniquely influencing standards compliance around our core business."

While Fenner Dunlop’s conveyor belting operations are largely reliant on the mining industry, the company has also developed a range of belting-related products including moving walkways, parcel handling, plasterboard forming belts, stable matting and agricultural equipment.

More information is available at