SpainExchange designed and implemented the training program entitled Local Economic Development – Croatia to Spain, developed for a delegation of 12 local government officials of Croatia . The training event sponsored by World Learning, Inc. and funded by USAID took place in the Community of Madrid and the city of Barcelona from September 28th to October 5th of 2002.
The training program was designed by the managing director of SpainExchange with the advice of members of APRODEL, the Association of Local Development Professionals of the Community of Madrid, regarding the components of the training that deal specifically with local development. The program was implemented with the assistance of a program facilitator who accompanied the participants to all sessions and maintained program focus and continuity. The facilitator was Carmen Tomé, a former Sociology teacher at Universidad Pública de Navarra and a current Local Development professional.
All requirements of the Request for Training Proposal were met. The main objective of the program: "to know how other cities in other countries have approached the problem of local economic development and the structure of a local economic development entity" was accomplished through site visits, meetings with local officials, local development agencies' staff, area businesses representatives, and local development professionals. All institutions visited provided the participants with informational materials in various formats, books, publications, pamphlets and CDs for their review at a later time.
As required in the Request for Training Proposal, two specific models of economic development agencies were presented, Getafe Iniciativas and Barcelona Activa, the most successful local development agencies of Spain . Additionally, the participants were advised to consider other aspects of the Spanish experiences in local development and how the lessons learned in Spain could be applied in a practical ways to the Croatian reality. Methodologically, the participants were encouraged to appreciate not only the successes realized in Spain , but also the failures, their causes and consequences. Particularly, emphasis was placed on the need to preserve the environment and to seek the participation of local citizens in the design and implementation of developmental models for their localities.
Besides obtaining two specific models of successful economic development entities and the motivation to implement similar models in the participants' cities, the Croatian delegation returned to their respective cities with current, detailed, and practical information regarding local economic development. The aspects learned in Spain served as a foundation for local development efforts in Rijeka , Varazdin, Crikvenica, Bjelovar , Nova Gradiska, and other cities in Croatia.
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