Tuesday, October 15, 2021
Delivered as Pre-recorded Message
Kalispera, everyone! I’m proud to join you for the opening of Cisco’s Digital Transformation and Skills Center in beautiful Thessaloniki. I regret I could not join in person, but I am in Washington this week for the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue.
I want to congratulate Cisco for turning a concept that began three years ago with the American Pavilion at the Thessaloniki Fair, into a brick and mortar reality so quickly.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the Municipality of Thessaloniki, which provided the historic and well located building that you are all in today.
I want to congratulate and thank Mayor Zervas for his vision and support, as well as Maria Antoniou, the Director of the Prime Minister’s Office here in Thessaloniki. And of course my good friends, Ministers Georgiadis and Pierrakakis, who embraced the idea of the Cisco project and who have been such wonderful partners for all of the great things this center has been doing.
Although this is the formal inauguration of the Center, it has already been active for over a year bringing together the public and private sectors and championing the innovative ideas that are the heart of Thessaloniki’s renewed growth story.
The Center has hosted more than 20 conferences organized by Cisco and partners such as Aristotle University, Alumil, and the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
In addition, the Center will soon host a conference on cybersecurity issues here in northern Greece, under the auspices of the U.S. Consulate in partnership with American industry leaders Cisco, Deloitte and AWS, many which have come to call Thessaloniki home.
The Center’s mandate, however, goes beyond public and private partnerships. It is dedicated to working closely with the Thessaloniki community as an important educational resource and center of learning.
It has been providing digital skills education and training, such as networking, coding for our signature CodeGirls program, and Robotics for children, free of cost.
The Center’s work also extends throughout northern Greece as well. It recently signed an MOU with our American Tech Lab in Xanthi, through which it will cultivate science and technology skills with youth in Thrace and Eastern Macedonia.
And in May, Cisco signed an MOU with ONEX for the ONEX-Cisco International Maritime Technology and Innovation Center in Syros. This MOU will build on the new high-tech partnership between ONEX and Cisco, reinforcing cooperation and digital interconnection throughout the Aegean.
This opening holds a very special importance for me, as it brings to fruition the seeds that were planted three years ago with the American Pavilion at the Thessaloniki International Fair in 2018, when the United States was the honored country.
So much has changed since then. Today, large American multinational companies like Cisco, Deloitte, Pfizer, and Amazon Web Services have established growing presences here in the city or are actively working on projects in northern Greece, leveraging Greece’s rich human capital and supportive environment to create a virtuous cycle of growth from which we all greatly benefit – the United States, Greece, and the Western Balkans.
I’d like to congratulate once again Cisco and all of the private and public partnerships and people who are daily working together to make Thessaloniki an important technology hub and driver of innovation and growth in Southeastern Europe.