Valley Business, Political Leaders Visit Cuba

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A group of eight elected officials, business leaders and consultants – including representatives from the Mahoning Valley — traveled to Cuba last week to explore exporting opportunities.

“We left there with a better understanding of the rules and regulations of doing business in Cuba, including workforce and cultural differences,” said Sarah Boyarko, senior vice president of economic development for the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. “Our group not only explored individual opportunities but also how we can work together on common goals.”

The trip, the first of several planned, was an introductory opportunity to explore exporting opportunities within the approved industries of agriculture, building and construction materials, telecommunications, energy and other equipment and tools to support Cuban entrepreneurs.

Participants in the trip included Herb Schuler Jr., General Extrusions Inc. CEO; Michael Sherwin, Columbiana Boiler Co, CEO; and Newton Falls Mayor Lyle Waddell.

While in Cuba, the group met with Dorys Quintana Cruz, relations specialist, Union of Cuban Lawyers; Elpidio Perez, foreign investment expert, Union of Cuban Lawyers; Dr. Carola Salas Couce, titular professor, Center for International Economic Investigations, University of Havana; and Leima Martinez, Cuban Institute of Friendship.

“To have the chance to understand the Cuban people and their culture was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” Sherwin said. “While there are business opportunities, this is a work in progress and will be a complete commitment to Cuba and its people and culture.”

Waddell noted that the trip was educational and business oriented but also gave the group good insight into the cultural and residential aspects of Cuba.

“It really is the land that time forgot. The situation in Cuba has been unfortunate, but hopefully, the times are changing,” Schuler added.

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