This fall, Austin and Florence entered into a “historic agreement” to facilitate educational, cultural and business collaborations.
Cristiano Maggipinto is a diplomatic adviser to the mayor of Florence.
“There were so many similarities and complementary aspects between our two cities that they were natural candidates to cooperate,” he said.
The City of Austin’s Economic Development Department announced the signing of this Protocol of Cooperation Agreement in September.
“What we have in tech, Florence has in fashion,” Austin Economic Development Department director Sylnovia Holt-Rabb said. “So, we saw the connection and exchange of ideas.”
Florence is famous for fashion, being the home to several luxury brands such as Gucci, Ferragamo, Pucci and Cavalli.
“We have a Fashion Incubator that we’re in partnership with Austin Community College,” Holt-Rabb explained. “We see this agreement with Florence as a great opportunity to expand our fashion scene.”
When it comes to Italy’s startup scene, Maggipinto says Florence is leading the way.
“There are a lot of incubators and startups in many different spaces,” he said.
This made Austin attractive, as many top tech companies have moved into the area.
“Austin is the center of one of the most important festivals in the United States, South by Southwest,” Maggipinto said.
Ever since the Austin Florence Alliance was signed in September, both cities say they’ve seen collaboration.
Holt-Rabb mentioned that some Italian musicians have reached out to local business owners in Austin.
“Our long-term goal is to develop more cultural relationships, economic relationships and lifelong learning opportunities,” she concluded.
This initial agreement with Florence, Italy kicks off a two-year process of partnership to officially become sister cities.
The City of Austin currently has 13 sister cities. To see the list, you can click here.