Mahatma Gandhi has come to Bellevue.
A statue of the revered "Apostle of Peace" who led India to independence was placed at the Bellevue Regional Library downtown, with a dedication on Saturday, Oct. 17 that drew hundreds despite rain. Attendees included Meera Shankar, the Indian ambassador to the U.S., Bellevue City Council members and congressmen Jim McDermott and Jay Inslee.
The six-foot, bronze figure is a gift from the government of India to Bellevue, honoring the people of the city where many Indian nationals who have settled and found success. Designed by Indian sculptor and architect Anil R. Sutar, the statue is similar to memorials at the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta.
Indian officials say that India has applied to the U.S. State Department for permission to establish a consulate in Bellevue. One of just a handful of Indian consulates in the U.S., the office would serve the entire Pacific Northwest region and be the first consulate from any country here.
Fifteen percent of the state's Indian population -- more than 6,000 people -- live in Bellevue, 10 Indian firms have U.S. headquarters on the Eastside and 30 percent of the global workforce for Redmond-based Microsoft is Indian. The State Bank of India is even considering opening a branch in Bellevue.According to the Bellevue Office of Economic Development, India's exports to the U.S. doubled between 2000 and 2008 to $20.7 billion while the United States' exports to India rocketed from $3.7 billion in 2000 to $21 billion in 2008.
Trade with India, the second fastest-growing economy in the world, benefits the city, along with Indian companies establishing offices in Bellevue, so the Office of Economic Development last year launched "Initiative India" to facilitate trade and cultural cooperation with the country.
"What we're doing in Bellevue is trying to position ourselves so our businesses can benefit from this opportunity," said economic development manager Tom Boydell. Aerospace, medical device and the full range of technology companies, as well as legal, architectural and financial-services firms, stand to benefit the most from this new trade relationship.
"We also expect Bellevue to become the place of choice to start new companies," Boydell added. "Indians will be attracted to invest in local real estate and to establish the U.S. offices here."
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