On September 19, I visited Sundsvall to meet with policymakers, business leaders and students but also to welcome three young professionals from the United States who are participating in the SAGA Trainee Program.
Those of you who follow this blog frequently may have noticed that I do my best to travel a lot in order to see as much of the country as possible. I have been to all corners of Sweden – from Abisko in northern Sweden to Smygehuk in the south. From Värmland in the west to Gotland in the east. As the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, I think it is important to leave the capital whenever possible to see what is on the mind of Swedes elsewhere.
In Sundsvall, located approximately 230 miles north of Stockholm, I was greeted by Mayor Jörgen Berglund, Municipal Council Member Sverker Ottosson, and Ulrika Åberg from the Governor’s Office. They hosted a morning roundtable discussion with our newly arrived SAGA trainees. Earlier this year, the Embassy — in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Swedish American Chambers of Commerce — launched a public-private partnership whereby three young professionals competed for traineeships at three companies in the Sundsvall region; SCA, SSG and Åkroken Science Park.
Rachel Agnew, Erica Restich and Marie Vasallo arrived in Sundsvall two weeks ago and will focus on issues pertaining to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability in particular. It was very inspiring to meet with these young female leaders to learn about their first impressions of Sweden. They were all very moved by the Swedish hospitality and impressed by their host companies’ focus on sustainability. Rachel, Erica and Marie will be blogging about their experiences on SwedishAmericanGreenAlliance.org – make sure to peek in every now and then for their latest updates.
Åke Westberg, President for the Energy unit at Sverige Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) hosted me and my staff for lunch. SCA is a global hygiene and forestry company that produces personal care products, tissue, publication papers, solid-wood products, pulp, wood components for building construction and furniture manufacturing, customized wood products for the building trade, and biofuels. Apart from hosting one of the SAGA trainees, SCA employs thousands of Americans in the United States at its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia, PA and around the country. At the lunch, Swedish solar collector company Absolicon signed a letter of intent with Ensources, LLC. According to the letter of intent, a manufacturing facility is to be built in Hazelton, Pennsylvanian which could create hundreds, or perhaps over a thousand, jobs. Swedish investment in the U.S. (and the subsequent creation of U.S. jobs) is among the Embassy’s top-priorities. Witnessing the signing ceremony was therefore one of the highlights of the trip.
Our last stop was at Mid-Sweden University to meet with both university and high school students. Most questions concerned my role as U.S. Ambassador but some also touched upon NATO, climate change and security. A perfect way to end this trip.