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Region-to-Region Partnership Established with Austrian Businesses, Government and University

052400international_dl.jpgBOONE–Appalachian State University students now students have an opportunity for cultural exchanges beyond the traditional borders of study abroad programs to those with local government and businesses in Austria.

The Austrian university Fachhoschule Vorarlberg, along with the State of Vorarlberg and its business community, have signed a formal exchange agreement with Appalachian State University, Boone and North Carolina. The partnership is unique in that it reaches beyond faculty and student exchanges to involve businesses and local government in exchanging people and ideas.

Manufacturers in Vorarlberg are interested in investing in and forging strategic alliances with companies in western North Carolina. Student internships, and faculty and business leader exchanges also will be a part of the partnership.

In establishing the region-to-region partnership, Mayor of Boone Velma Burnley, North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Rick Carlisle and Appalachian Provost Harvey Durham have signed agreements with their respective Austrian counterparts.

“While a relationship with a sister institution in another country is not new for Appalachian, this partnership takes the exchange one step further,” said Jean-Pierre Courbois, a professor in Appalachian’s Department of Economics. “Partnering with business and government will further the opportunities available to our students and will do the same for Austrian students traveling here, not to mention the advantages to those in both countries working in business and government.”

Two Austrian companies interested in finding partners in the region include Mayer Glasbautechnik, a manufacturer which produces an automated sun shade system for insulated window units, and Stark, which produces a patented workholding and positioning mechanism for machine tools.

Preparing students for leadership in today’s global economy means providing opportunities for cultural exchange, according to Chancellor Francis T. Borkowski.

“The university believes strongly that the preparation of North Carolina’s and our country’s future leadership must contain international experiences,” he said. “As nations move rapidly into a world of global interdependence, the education process for a future work force must include opportunities for students to become sensitive to and understand diverse religious, ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds of people with whom they might be interrelating in a global economy.”

Any company interested in partnering with an Austrian company or learning more about the region-to-region partnership can contact Paul Combs at the Appalachian Regional Development Institute at (828) 262-6161. The Appalachian Regional Development Institute manages the region-to-region partnership as part of its public service role in western North Carolina.

The German Marshall Fund and the North Carolina Rural Development Center fund the program.

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Picture Caption: From left to right: Austrian trade representative Benno Koch; Meg Kennedy, Bob White and Marv Williamsen, Appalachian’s Office of International Programs; Vorarlberg Secretary of Commerce Manfred Rein; Hubert Regner, Vorarlberg Department of Education; Karlheinz Rudisser, Vorarlberg

Department of Commerce; Jean-Pierre Courbois, Appalachian’s Department of Economics; Nancy Wells, Office of International Programs; and Robert Merz, Fachhochschule Vorarlberg robotics professor.