Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nigerian Governor Visits Pittsburgh to Discuss Potential Partnerships & Opportunities; Connect with Local Programs

Government officials, business and community leaders from Allegheny County and Osun State, Nigeria gathered recently to strategize about ways the two areas can work together and learn from each other.

Gov. Aregbesola
Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and high-ranking members of his delegation met in late February with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Marie C. Johns, SBA Deputy Administrator who also will be visiting the region, as well local business representatives, faith-based groups and community organizations.

The governor visited Manchester Bidwell Training Center and the Braddock Pot Shop, a ceramic water filter factory, and met with representatives of area universities. The visit ended with a Black History Month Celebration and dinner at the Kingsley Association in East Liberty.

A highlight of the visit was a Roundtable Business Forum on Feb. 21 also at the Kingsley Center. Co-hosted by Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED) and the Allegheny County Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, the Forum will provide the opportunity to discuss current business opportunities in Nigeria and possible international trade partnerships, and investment opportunities for small businesses.

"The Roundtable is the second in our series of meetings to connect Southwestern Pennsylvania small businesses and institutions to the dynamic global market," said Rufus Idris, Executive Director of CEED.

The governor's visit was preceded by visits from high-ranking members of his administration to explore ways to learn from Pittsburgh’s transformation from a heavily polluted smoky city to a city now globally recognized as a green leader that has successfully managed to improve its economy and environmental stewardship.

Gov. Aregbesola plans to continue establishing partnerships in the areas of transformational leadership practices, business-to-business partnerships and win-win investments opportunities, educational exchange programs, import and export relationships, green technology and environment, health care, agriculture and cultural exchange and tours.

A rising star in Nigerian politics, Gov. Aregbesola is an engineer and political activist who between 1999 and 2007 led the bold beginnings of the infrastructural transformation of Lagos, one of the world’s largest megacities. Widely acknowledged as an exceptional grassroots campaigner and mobilizer, he has served as Governor of Osun State since 2010.

As Governor, he has focused on strengthening the state in the areas of agriculture, economic development, youth employment, education and security. His vision for the state is encapsulated in a Six Point Integral Action Plan to banish poverty, hunger and unemployment; to restore healthy living; to promote functional education and to enhance communal peace and progress. His plan seeks to ensure that the fruits of economic development positively impact as many lives as possible. The various meetings and events throughout the two days are hosted by CEED, Allegheny County MWDBE Department, the Kingsley Association, Union of African Communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Osun State Government.

CEED is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides free micro-enterprise and small business start-up support to area businesses, both in the City of Pittsburgh and the ten surrounding counties. The organization 

works to create opportunities for community growth and economic sustainability throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania using a small business assistance program called SKILLS TO WEALTH.

- Diane I. Daniels

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