U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills discussed the economic and business conditions in Gyumri with local officials and business people during his first visit to the city. He also visited several U.S. Government supported activities underway in Gyumri; such as the Lentex Factory, which employees 17 persons with disabilities, and the Gyumri American Corner, where he marked the Corner’s 10th anniversary. At the Lentex factory, the Ambassador praised the director Sevak Gomtsyan and the USAID-funded Livelihood Improvement through Fostered Employment (LIFE) program for their contribution to the economic development of Gyumri, and for recognizing the capabilities of all Gyumri’s citizens regardless of limitations or differences.
The Ambassador’s other activities included meetings with Mayor Samvel Balasanyan, Governor of Shirak Felix Tsolakyan and Archbishop Mikael Ajapahian. The Ambassador also lay a wreath on behalf of the U.S. Embassy staff at the grave of the Avetisyan family.
The Ambassador spoke, during his visit to the Lentex Factory, about USAID’s LIFE program which aims to promote equal employment opportunities and access to employment for people with disabilities. USAID and its local partner – Save the Children – cooperate with NGOs, business organizations and local governments to establish “social enterprises” in Armenia. Through LIFE program efforts, 18 such enterprises are operating today in 6 regions of Armenia. More than 200 people with disabilities have gained employment within these enterprises in areas such as leather goods production, textile manufacturing, photo and 3D printing, and solar heating systems installation.