On June 18, 2007, GRADD signed an official Sister Region partnership agreement with the Olomoucký Kraj, Czech Republic. The Olomouc region covers an area of 2,034 square miles (5,267 sq. km) in the northeastern Czech Republic and is home to 641,714 residents. Major cities include Olomouc (pop. 100,373), Přerov (47,037), Prostějov (45,675), Šumperk (27,946), and Jeseník (12,209).
A "Sister Region" partnership is simply an expansion of the "Sister City" concept, popularized across the United States during the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s. The goal of the GRADD-Olomouc relationship is "to become partner regions, based on the principles of equality, partnership, and mutual profitability." Areas of cooperation and exchange include: local government, economic development, tourism development, culture, sports, education, science, and research. Representatives from both regions make regular trips across the Atlantic to learn from one another.
In November 2009, GRADD officials traveled to the Czech Republic to participate in ceremonies marking the twentieth anniversary of that nation's "Velvet Revolution” of 1989. Daviess County judge/executive Reid Haire and Owensboro mayor Ron Payne visited the Olomoucký Kraj as part of an international delegation that included representatives from Olomouc’s partner regions in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Serbia.
GRADD’s delegation toured significant sites and attended special lectures at Palacký University about the Czech Republic’s historic revolution, in which citizens peacefully overthrew a communist dictatorship in favor of democratic government. The group also met with current Czech elected officials and participated in numerous ceremonies celebrating this noteworthy anniversary.
In September 2010, the two regions launched the "GOAL" (GRADD-Olomoucký Kraj Area Link) initiative. A delegation of five Czech representatives met with local officials and took a whirlwind tour of points of interest across the GRADD district September 19-23. As part of the festivities, Mr. Pavel Horák, vice president of the Olomouc Regional Council, delivered the keynote address at the GRADD Annual Dinner on September 20.
GRADD executive director Jiten Shah and Northwest Kentucky Forward president/CEO Kevin Sheilley traveled to Olomouc November 3-5, 2010, to participate in the first annual "Partner Days." This unique event brought together economic development specialists and chamber of commerce representatives from the Olomouc region and their fellow international partner regions in France, Serbia, Finland, Hungary, and Poland for dialogue.
>>View photos of >>Watch TV news coverage of
the Czech visit to Partner Days on the "Regional
GRADD region in Happenings" program (from
September 2010 Přerov Cable Television - CZ)
*To learn more about this exciting initiative, please contact Jiten Shah at (270) 926-4433. For a list of upcoming exchange opportunities, please visit the Owensboro Community & Technical College's Sister City/Region Program website.