SACRAMENTO – Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Canada Flintridge) announced today the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art, and Cultural Exchange for the 2021-22 Legislative Session.

“I am proud to once again Chair the Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art, and Cultural Exchange and continue to strengthen this important partnership,” stated Senator Portantino. “California and the Republic of Armenia have a history of mutual cooperation and trade. By approving this Select Committee, the California State Senate expresses its commitment to expanding relations not only with Armenia, but also with the Republic of Artsakh. Given the recent tragic events that have devastated the country, it is more important than ever that California reaffirms its commitment to Artsakh’s sovereignty.

At the request of Senator Portantino, the California State Senate Rules Committee first established the historic Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art, and Cultural Exchange in 2017 to expand business opportunities through trade, economic development, cultural awareness, and education between California, Armenia, and Artsakh. Senator Portantino also helped negotiate the historic Memorandum of Understanding between California and Armenia and joined Governor Newsom in New York for its historic and official signing.

Armenia has a flourishing high-tech industry, robust arts community, and a digital business corridor that is underutilized. California is the clear industry leader in these areas. Both California and Armenian benefit from collaboration and cooperation. Tourism is also a place where California would benefit from direct marketing of our modern Golden State while also highlighting the amazing and vast historical sites and landmarks of Armenia.

Additionally, there are educational opportunities that need to be explored and cultivated. As California recently passed Armenian Genocide Education Curriculum for inclusion in social studies textbooks, the opportunity to facilitate teacher training and professional development trips would also be a priority of the Committee. Armenia’s educational systems are highly respected and in fact, cutting edge.

An after school program – the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies – is the envy of many countries and was funded and created by an Armenian American business leader from Texas. Currently, there is a strong local effort to bring TUMO to California and this is an important endeavor that the Select Committee could take on.

California has the largest population of Armenian Americans in the country, with the 25th Senate District having the largest concentration of residents of Armenian heritage outside of Armenia. The continued work of the Senate Select Committee will have a direct role in building stronger economic and cultural ties between California, Armenia, and Artsakh.

Members of the Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art, and Cultural Exchange include Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Senator Henry I. Stern (D-Los Angeles), Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

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