The International Press Club of Chicago hosted an eye-opening presentation by Italian Consul General Thomas Botzios on July 29 at the museum. The Consul General was introduced by IPCC President Wayne Toberman.
Overseeing an 11-state jurisdiction, Botzios spoke proudly of the enormous positive economic impact Italy is having on America, with more than 100 Italian companies boasting presences in his consular area alone. Among them are pasta manufacturers Barilla and Rana; shipbuilder Fincantieri; packaging company SEDA; tech products manufacturer STMicroelectronics; and the Ferraro Group, manufacturers of a wide range of products, including iconic Ferraro Rocher candy.
Noting that the economic benefits flow in both directions, Botzios pointed out that Minneapolis-based 3M has Italian headquarters in Milan, and Des Moines-based Krause Group recently acquired the Parma soccer club. On the cultural front, Botzios noted that two of Chicago’s premiere conductors are Italian: Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Emeritus Riccardo Muti and Lyric Opera Music Director Enrique Mazzola.
Enrollment in Italian language classes have tripled in the Midwest in the last three years thanks to increased funding by the Italian government, Botzios reported, and more than 3,000 Italian researchers work in labs across America.
Botzios acknowledged that it was taking longer than he would prefer for citizenship applications to be processed, pointing to the high volume of requests and severe staffing restrictions. With the addition of a new staff member dedicated to the task, however, he hopes to reduce processing time to no more than 6 months.