A Center of Great Import
Local businesses and officials look to the Old Country to make Delaware a gateway for Italian goods and services.
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Local Italian-Americans have given us the St. Anthony’s Italian Festival and Vendemmia, the Societa da Vinci’s annual wine fest.
Now they’ve given us the Italian Mountain Development Agency Italia Trade and Cultural Center. The center promotes the import of Italian goods and services to the United States. Among other things, that means good artisan foods. The center is not a showroom, however. Located in the Shipyard Shops on the Wilmington Riverfront, it is headquarters for Italy’s small businesses in the U.S.
Call it a team effort, though everyone involved is being modest about their roles. Attorney Ciro Poppiti III, Delaware’s IMDA representative, credits Wilmington director of economic development Joe DiPinto. DiPinto says it was Poppiti who helped persuade Italy’s National Union of Mountain Municipalities, Communities and Authorities to headquarter here.
“Ciro, along with David Mathe (an international trade specialist for the state), made a number of presentations in Delaware and they involved me in it,” DiPinto says. “Ciro was the first chair of the commission. Its creation was his idea.”
Given the dismal economy, is it wise to compete with sales of domestic products?
“Yes,” says Poppiti. “I see people from Italy coming here and spending money here. A landlord has a place rented at the Riverfront. The Italians have hired accountants, lawyers and a staffer. And the delegations stay at our hotels.”
There is yet another rationale for locating the center here. “We’re proud of our heritage,” says Poppiti. “Italians have been an institutional part of Delaware from its beginning because of people like Caesar Augustus Rodney. We have a special obligation to continue that.” —Maria Hess
Page 2: Back to the Garden | She left us as Mary Arden Collins. Now she's back as Arden of Eden. No matter–the music is still great.