Kosovo citizens explore American business ventures

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Kosovo, Vitina, Marty Colburn

Vitina’s Jakup Jahiri (second from left), Mayor Nexhmedin Arifi (third from left), Dëfrim Perja (center), and City Administrator Marty Colburn (far right) enjoy a get together at a local Mason home.      -photo by Ingrid Nova

By Cody Harrell
Mason Times staff writer

MASON—An April visit by Kosovo citizens developed new links with businesses around Michigan.

During the weeklong visit, Mason Mayor Leon Clark took the citizens to numerous cities in Michigan to demonstrate the role of business, government, agriculture and education in community life. These included the Ingham County and Lansing courthouses, the Michigan Capitol, farms, Michigan State University and several businesses in the greater Lansing area.

The trip’s purpose, according to Clark, was to provide Kosovans with contacts and business opportunities while giving tours of Mason and surrounding areas. Clark facilitated business by introducing the Kosovoans to Thielenhaus Microfinish, a Novi-based company that does business in numerous European countries.

“They will send the parts to Vitina, and if they meet specifications then they will purchase the parts (that Viti manufactures),” Clark said. “It’s beneficial for Kosovo and Michigan.”

City Administrator Martin Colburn accompanied the visitors to Novi and other businesses around the greater Lansing area. Colburn’s team aimed to create a business out of offices in Kosovo to strengthen bonds between the United States and European countries.

Colburn and Clark introduced the guests to American farms to provide a model for high-tech agricultural innovations. Colburn said they were most impressed that computers built into tractors can manage a 2,000-acre plot of farmland.

“Their true spirit came out in a way that would help their community back home,” Colburn said.

Colburn said Kosovo is the poorest European country, and that this trip would help develop diplomatic and economic links to boost community morale.

Vitina’s mayor, Nexhmedin Arifi, said visits to factories and businesses promoted ideas to bring about a trade economy mirroring Michigan’s.

“Our model is to build a new state in the American model,” Arifi said. “This motivates us to have a closer relationship with the city of Mason.”

Arifi said each visit expanded his views on education, agriculture, administration and health care. It was the first time any of the Kosovans had seen very large properties reserved for businesses and government.

At the beginning of the visit, Clark brought nearly 100 Mason citizens together in a community reception to celebrate and promote connections between the people of Mason and Vitina.

“Every place we took them, the citizens responded thoughtfully,” Clark said.

Clark ended the visit with a ceremony to present Arifi with a key to Mason, solidifying connections with their “sister city” in Kosovo. He said that plans to re-visit Kosovo are now being planned.

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