Follow us on:

'Kosovo ambassador visits Red Wing,' The Republican Eagle

Kosovo's ambassador to the U.S., Avni Spahiu, spent time in Red Wing Thursday, touring both Red Wing Shoe Co. and Riedell Shoe Inc.'s local facilities.

The visits were two of a number of stops theambassador and his small entourage made this week to Minnesotafactories. Spahiu said he was looking to learn from American industryand to promote Kosovo as a ripe place for U.S. investment.

"It's a very friendly place for doing business there," Spahiu said.

Specifically, he cited the fledgling country's young workforce as a potential lure for manufacturers.

Peter Engel, marketing director for the Shoe, said the company could envision Kosovo as being a new market for its shoes.

"We're always looking to expand our global presence," he said.

Engel said most footwear the Shoe sends overseas goes to outfit oilrig workers.

In Kosovo, however, he said he could see the Shoe's casual footwearbecoming popular among the country's young, pro-American population. Themedian age in Kosovo is 26.

Kosovo and the U.S. have good diplomatic relations because the U.S. supported its declaration of statehood in 2008.

During the tour of Shoe Plant No. 2, company officials presented Spahiu with a pair of boots.

Spahiu is Kosovo's first ambassador to the U.S.

Riedell President Bob Riegelman said the company was more than happy togive Spahiu a tour its factory. He added Riedell's workers were given achance to show off their craft.