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Mayor Explores Economic Development Opportunities in England

Monday March 20, 2006

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor William Hyde and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson Will Sign Sister Cities Agreement with Leeds

Mayor Jerry Abramson leaves tomorrow on a five-day trip to Great Britain where he will sign an official agreement making Leeds, England Louisville’s eighth Sister City and tout Louisville as a place for economic expansion and investment.

Abramson will spend his first day in London, meeting with top executives of Antisoma, a biotechnology company specializing in the development of groundbreaking anti-cancer drugs. The city has been actively courting Antisoma to expand its base in the United States and entertained Antisoma executives at the 2005 Kentucky Derby. In 2005, Antisoma purchased a Louisville bio-tech company, Aptamera. Aptamera was founded by Dr. Donald Miller, executive director of the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Dr. Miller was recruited to Louisville through the Bucks for Brains program.

“This trip is a chance to promote our hometown on an international stage,” Abramson said. “It is also an opportunity for us to forge new relationships with companies that can bring new jobs to Louisville and to our region.”

While in London, Abramson will also meet with Paul Pilkauskas, director of the European Representative Office of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Pilkauskas will join the mayor’s delegation for the duration of the visit.

Abramson will then travel to Leeds where he will meet with political, university and business leaders who can be instrumental in forging business and education partnerships between the two cities.

A trade mission to England last year, led by former Governor Martha Layne Collins, chairman of the Kentucky World Trade Center, opened the door for at least one Louisville company to launch new European operations in Leeds. On Friday, Abramson will address 150 civic leaders at a ceremony to formalize the Sister Cities agreement with the Lord Mayor of Leeds.

Officials from both cities have spent the last two years exploring opportunities for exchanges in the areas of education, tourism, economic development, arts and culture. Law faculty, students and nurses have participated in education exchanges between the University of Louisville and institutions in Leeds for several decades.
 
“I am delighted that Louisville and Leeds will finally formalize our long-standing friendship by becoming Sister Cities,” Abramson said. “I look forward to expanded opportunities for exchanges and economic development.”
 
Leeds is similar in size and population to Louisville, is a river city and is experiencing economic growth and rapid downtown commercial and residential development. Leeds is also home to the Royal Armouries Museum, a “sister” institution of Louisville’s Frazier Historical Arms Museum.

Shirley Willihnganz, provost of the University of Louisville; Dr. Dan Ash, executive director of Metroversity and vice president for external affairs for Jefferson Community Technical College; Pat Todd, executive director of student assignment for Jefferson County Public Schools; and Laura Frazier, board member of the Frazier Historical Arms Museum will accompany Abramson on the trip. Representatives of the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce will also travel with the mayor for strategic meetings.

Sister Cities of Louisville, which is paying for the mayor’s trip, is a non-profit organization that has created opportunities for international exchanges and economic development between Louisville and its other Sister Cities for almost 50 years. Louisville’s seven other Sister Cities are Montpellier, France; Quito, Ecuador; Tamale, Ghana; Mainz, Germany; Perm Russia; LaPlata, Argentina; and Jiujiang, China. Abramson will return to Louisville on Sunday, March 26, 2006.