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Uzbek Economic Leaders Visit Kansas City Through Open World Program
October 8, 2004

For Immediate Release

High-Level Delegation to Examine Economic Development in Kansas City Area

Washington, DC — Eight Uzbek economic and business leaders taking part in the Open World Program will spend Oct. 9-17 in Kansas City examining economic development with area officials, businesspeople, and educators. The delegates are all involved in efforts to reform and diversify Uzbekistan’s economy, which before the country became independent in 1991 was geared toward supplying the rest of the Soviet Union with raw materials. Seven of the delegates are from the capital, the historic Central Asian crossroads city of Tashkent, which like Kansas City is a major regional transportation, business, and communications hub.

Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, Open World enables emerging political and civic leaders from participating Eurasian countries to observe American democracy and free enterprise in action and to build professional ties with their U.S. counterparts. Diane Koranda of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of People to People International is coordinating the visit for Open World.

Highlights of the Uzbeks’ Kansas City-area trip include meetings with Kansas City, MO Mayor Kay Barnes and Merriam Mayor Carl Wilkes; a session on international business at the Kauffman Foundation; briefings at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), and the Kansas City Board of Trade; visits to Sprint, Yellow Freight, and other area companies; roundtables at the UMKC business incubator and Rockhurst University’s Helzburg School of Management; and a discussion on community development with Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS Unified Government officials. Homestays with local People to People members will introduce the delegates to American family and community life.

The visiting Uzbek delegation includes two top government economists — Sardorbek Koshnazarov, chief specialist at the Ministry of Economics, and Farrukh Ubaydullayev, chief economist at the Ministry of Finance — and two other government officials — Olimzhon Matazimov, the State Tax Committee’s head of international tax relations, and Sobitzhon Abdurakhmanov, a manager at the national oil and gas holding company, Uzbekneftegaz. Delegate Dildora Tadzhibayeva runs the regional office of the World Council of Credit Unions and advises the parliament on tax and finance issues; Timur Valitov chairs the board of the Universal Agro-Industrial Exchange; and Yuliy Yusupov is deputy editor-in-chief of the respected Economic Bulletin. Nazira Yelibayeva, who comes from Karakalpak Republic, located in northwest Uzbekistan on the Aral Sea, serves as executive director of the republic’s branch of the Uzbekistan Business Women’s Association.

The Open World Program is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress that builds mutual understanding between the emerging leaders of participating countries and their U.S. counterparts. The program also exposes visitors to ideas and practices that they can adapt for use in their own organizations. Open World delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. The program’s administering agency, the Open World Leadership Center, is an independent legislative branch agency with offices at the Library of Congress.

Uzbekistan became eligible for Open World in 2003, when the U.S. Congress authorized the program to expand beyond the Russian Federation, the sole focus of its early years of operation, to other countries of the former Soviet Union. Open World hosted its first Uzbek delegates in December 2003. The Kansas City delegation is part of Open World’s second exchange for Uzbek leaders.

Open World has awarded a grant to Friendship Force International (FFI) to administer this and similar exchanges in 2004. A leading nonprofit international cultural exchange organization, FFI is active in 125 American communities and more than 55 countries, promoting friendship and goodwill through an extensive program of homestay exchanges and an expanding range of related programs.

For more information on the Kansas City visit, please contact Diane Koranda at 913-384-2283 or George Felcyn at The PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more information on the Open World Program, please visit