Italian group from Saluda’s sister city visits Polk County

From left, Lynn Cass, Christina Criscio, Mayor Gianfranco D’Isabella and his wife Paola, Ambrose Mills and Brian Griffin share a moment during a recent visit by officials from Carunchio, Italy, to Polk County.

Members of a delegation from Saluda’s sister city in Italy, Carunchio, spent the week of March 19 visiting and learning more about Polk County.

The Carunchio delegation included Mayor Gianfranco D’Isabella and his wife, Paola, along with Christina Criscio, their guide and translator. Carunchio officially became Saluda’s sister city in May 2016, the cities sharing things in common such as population size and average age of a citizen living in the city.

A key part of the delegation’s visit included visiting several businesses that support the economic vitality of the area. Lynn Cass, former Saluda City Commissioner, hosted the delegation and, in conjunction with the Economic Tourism Development Commission (ETDC) and the Office of Economic Development, visited four local businesses.

The tour guides for the fun-filled day were ETDC Chairman Ambrose Mills and Brian Griffin, Business Development Director for Polk County.

Griffin and staff extend a special thanks to the following for their hospitality and professionalism while hosting the Italian delegation at their established places of business:

* Patrick McLendon, Executive Director for Gro Rural Opportunities (GRO). McClendon provided a brief history of how GRO was established along with a tour of the Agriculture Center and a visit to the Mill Spring Farm Store.

* Bob and Karen Parker-Binns, owners of Parker-Binns Vineyard. Binns provided a tour of the facilities and then discussed the winemaking process as well as discussing events such as weddings, parties and even reunions that take place there.

* Kathryn McMahon, Director of Community Engagement for the Tryon International Equestrian Center. McMahon discussed the creation of the equestrian center and also provided a presentation on the upcoming World Equestrian Games in September and the economic impact the sporting event will provide.

* Sofia Lilly, Winemaker for Overmountain Vineyards and Winery. Lilly discussed how the estate grows fruit and how the focus is on developing artisanal wines which are hand crafted and distinctive. She also addressed which foods best complement each of the wines she presented.

The Italian delegation came away impressed with each of the establishments and commented that they have a lot of information to take back with them as they consider how to move their economy in a direction very similar to Polk County.