Playing host to foreign trade delegations is the type of activity associated with hubs of global commerce, such as New York City, London, Singapore and Tokyo.
Tinley Park usually isn't on that list.
But that's 20th-century thinking. At a time when technology has brought cities, as well as people, closer to one another, corporate executives are exploring different financial opportunities that can be found in communities like Tinley.
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That's why a group of about 30 government and business leaders from Gdańsk, Poland, visited the village Friday, Oct. 26, as the final part of a 10-day trip that had stops in the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and downtown Chicago. The members, which included CEOs from Gdańsk's tech industry, met with Mayor Ed Zabrocki and other village officials during a luncheon at the Tinley Park Convention Center. State Rep. Charles Krezwick (D-Orland Park) and State Rep. Renée Kosel (R-Mokena) also were on hand.
"Your place is known as one of the fastest developing cities of U.S. And a beautiful one, too," said Mieczyslaw Struk, the governor of Pomeranian, during his presentation. Gdańsk is the capital of the Pomeranian province, the Polish equivalent to a U.S. state.
The Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., specifically requested to visit Tinley about a month ago as part of the delegation's U.S. trip, said Pawel Pietrasienski, the embassy's minister counselor, adding that many Polish companies are looking at Chicago's surrounding communities for ways to expand their businesses. In fact, the village and the Gdańsk region shared similar outcomes when it came to weathering the economic difficulties that hit in late 2008, Pietrasienski said.
"I think Tinley Park and our region could learn from this [meeting]," he said. "You survived [the financial downturn] here in Tinley Park, and we have had quite a vibrant economy [in that time]."
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The biggest draw for this delegation, however, was a chance to find out more about the partnerships between village government and local businesses, which emphasize trust, understanding, respect and transparency, said Village Clerk Patrick Rea, who gave a presentation on that topic.
"It's not them versus us," Rea said at the luncheon. "There are corporate citizens and private citizens, but they are all citizens of Tinley Park."
The way those entities work together was of particular interest to Alan Aleksandrowicz, CEO of the Gdańsk Economic Development Agency. Aleksandrowicz, who used to work with Pietrasienski at the Polish consulate in Chicago, praised Americans as the best in the world at accelerating the growth of companies and said he hoped the delegates could create a similarly successful partnership between the region's business community and the government that Tinley enjoys.
The visit, though, wasn't simply a learning opportunity for the Polish delegation. The luncheon also reinforced the village's commitment to building relations with overseas companies. That interest began more than two decades ago, when Mayor Zabrocki joined then-Gov. James Thompson on trips to Korea and Japan, the mayor said in an interview before the luncheon. It was an opportunity that let the mayor showcase Tinley Park and eventually led to a Hyundai car dealership in the village a year and half later, Zabrocki added.
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Given today's global economy, these types of relationships are critical for Tinley Park, Rea and Zabrocki emphasized. And Tinley's association with Gdańsk and its business community is something the village wants to foster.
"You have the CEOs of 30 major Polish firms, and they specifically want to visit with folks … they think they can do business with," Rea said before the visit. "We've never had this kind of number of CEOs and Polish companies. … We'd love to be able to sell them on the idea that Tinley Park is a good place to set up a business footprint."
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: Patch is honoring breast cancer awareness with special coverage throughout the month of October. Please take a moment to learn more about what our community offers and share information with a loved one.
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- Think Pink: Breast Cancer Awareness Events in the Area
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