Economic Development News
|Moroccan consulate delegation ‘builds bridges' during visit to Martin County|
|Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011 3:00 pm|
The Martin County Board of County Commissioners issued a proclamation officially welcoming the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco on Tuesday morning, before the consulate had lunch with local business leaders and took a tour of Martin County.
The visit is meant to "build bridges" between the two countries, said Vice Consul Tarik Garti.
Crystal Stiles, co-director of the Business Development Board of Martin County, said the tour also provided a good opportunity for local businesses looking to expand.
"They're looking to increase exports and increase their business," Stiles said. "That's the bottom line."
Russ Sedlack, vice president of Armstrong Nautical Products in Stuart, attended the lunch. He said the company was considering expanding and that Morocco seemed like a good market for marine products.
Ali Kimia, owner of Caidal Events, a Miami-based company that plans Moroccan-themed events, said he came to the event because he considered it "a call for all Moroccans to be here and just talk about friendship. No matter how small this is, it's historic."
The consulate is also trying to keep Moroccan-Americans in touch with their home country, said Jamila Chami, the legal delegate for the Moroccan American Community of Florida.
Morocco is holding an election for a new constitution in July. Citizens living in other countries will be able to vote for the first time.
"There is not enough awareness between citizens in different countries," Garti said.
The consulate also recognized the work of Saadia Tsaftarides, a Moroccan native who lives in Stuart's Golden Gate community.
Tsaftarides led an initiative to restore the Golden Gate building, a historic, 1925 office building that is now functioning as a community center. Before its restoration, Tsaftarides said it had become "a drug dealer's headquarters. It became a nuisance to the community."
When the Moroccan consulate wanted to tour Martin County, it contacted Tsaftarides, who put it in touch with the board of commissioners.
The board of commissioners' proclamation welcoming the consulate lauded the long relationship between Morocco and the U.S., beginning in 1777, when Morocco was the first country to recognize the U.S. as an independent country. In 2006, the U.S. ratified a Fair Trade Agreement with Morocco, and now imports $879 million in goods from the country.
Chami presented the board with a Moroccan cooking pot called a tajine, used to make traditional Moroccan stews.
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