Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s planned two-week trip to Japan beginning next Monday will no doubt include a fair amount of tourism and diplomacy – notably when Kirk becomes the first Gloucester mayor to ever visit our Japanese sister city of Tamano.
Yet it’s also clear that Kirk’s trip, if all goes well, can open new doors and provide very practical economic opportunities for Gloucester and Cape Ann. And that indeed makes the mayor’s journey worthwhile – especially considering that a Japanese bank and the private nonprofit Gloucester Marine Geonomics Institute, a fisheries-based research and development group based at Rowe Square, are covering the costs.
Kirk’s itinerary will include talking sciences between a global pharmaceutical company and GMGI, which could provide new opportunities for the institute and the city alike.
The mayor’s trip will also include a visit to the world’s largest fish market in Tsukiji, discussion of sustainable fishing practices, a tour of a state-of-the-art fish processing center and an aquaculture facility — all of which can have implications for the city and this area’s transitioning fishing industry and waterfront. And the idea of a large-scale outdoor fish market is one that’s been tossed about from time to time as at least a partial use of Gloucester’s still-vacant I-4, C-2 site.
Perhaps most interestingly, however, Kirk is also slated to meet with leaders of 35Summers — the Japanese company that acquired the Mighty Mac clothing company that was founded in Gloucester by the brothers Harold and Dick Bell.
Kirk makes no bones about the purpose of that portion of the visit.
“The interest is to bring the brand back to the U.S., particularly Gloucester,” she said, adding that she hopes such talks could lead to a retail shop in Gloucester or more.