USAID Mission Director Susan Fritz’s Remarks at the Grand Opening of 1991 in Mariupol

October 29, 2019

Thank you, Denis. Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m really pleased to be here for the launch of 1991 in Mariupol.

And I’m really pleased that it’s not only USAID supporting this great effort. We had the Prime Minister here earlier, we had — the President came and toured the center earlier, as well.  We have our European colleagues and friends, as well.  So, this is a joint effort.

So, our investments here today are tangible evidence of our joint efforts to create a successful Ukraine, and how critical Ukraine is for the world, for the U.S., and for Europe.

So we often talk about the fact that Ukraine is on the frontline.  But, today we’re here in Mariupol, which really is the frontline. We’re so close to the line of contact, and we see the conflict every day.

But what is really great about Mariupol is that it is full of dynamic leaders.  It is full of entrepreneurs and civic activists that are making this city a vibrant community in which to work and live.

And 1991 in Mariupol is just the latest example of the city’s dynamism and its willingness to reinvent itself in the face of adversity.

And it’s a really good example of how this city is reorienting itself, and how the east in general is reorienting itself away from heavy industry and more toward SMEs – small and medium enterprises – and  entrepreneurs as a new kind of economy in this part of the country.

And there are so many companies and industries that will benefit from the infusion of IT workers who are skilled and able to support those companies.

And this will both attract investment and build confidence in the local economy.

But I think, most importantly, it will keep the youth of Mariupol here, and maybe even attract more youth to Mariupol.

So, we planted the seeds a couple of months ago with the signing of a new IT cluster agreement, and this is sort of the next investment to really grow the IT field and sector here in Mariupol.

So, in closing, I want to congratulate you, Denis, you and your team, for the great work in pulling this together, and we are just so proud to be part of the effort and to support it.