County Executive Robert P. Astorino and President of the Province of Bari Francesco Schittulli recently signed a voluntary agreement designed to boost the economic, social and cultural ties between the two municipalities.
The agreement, called a Joint Declaration of Intended Programs, was facilitated by the Puglia Center of America, which is located in New Rochelle.
"Westchester and Bari have a lot in common," said Astorino. "It makes sense to exchange ideas to solve our shared challenges and to promote each other's successes."
At no cost to taxpayers, the agreement establishes a shared commitment to develop common initiatives and projects aimed at promoting comparable interests in the fields of culture, art, tourism, ecology, youth, trade and commerce.
Bari is a province of Italy's Puglia region. It covers an area of about 2,000 square miles and has a population of approximately 1.5 million; 18 percent of Westchester's population is of Italian descent.
Astorino traveled to Bari in February to address the United Nations Academic Impact symposium on environmental sustainability held at the University of Bari Aldo Moro. The speech outlined the strategies the county is employing to balance the county's commitment to protecting the environment with the need for economic growth. Read the full speech.
"Westchester County has been a great model of leadership and openness towards innovative collaboration. We feel honored to partner with them," said Luciano Lamonarca, founder of the Puglia Center of America. Last week, Astorino was honored by the Puglia Center of America at its 'Second Annual Puglia's Italy Award of Excellence in America' event. The award was presented by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Photo (l. to r.): County Executive Robert P. Astorino signs the Joint Declaration of Intended Programs between Westchester and Bari, while the President of the Province of Bari, Francesco Schittulli, looks on.