Banking on Higher Profile

USF students gain top-level introduction to the World Bank from U.S. Executive Director Ian Solomon.

Ian Solomon talks with Karen Holbrook, USF's senior vice president for USF World and International Research, during the Thursday event.     Photo: Aimee Blodgett | USF News


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (May 18, 2012) – Students, faculty and staff filled a large meeting room at the Patel Center to hear recently-appointed World Bank Group U. S. Executive Director Ian H. Solomon explain his institution’s history and new direction.

Having such direct access to one of the world’s most influential people is unusual. During the Thursday visit, he said a new commitment to greater transparency and a higher profile in the United States are behind extensive travel around the country and speaking engagements at universities.

The World Bank, formed to rebuild Europe after World War II, in league with the International Monetary Fund, has been expanding its role ever since to address poverty around the world. Today, headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization has 9,000 employees in more than 100 offices worldwide.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which focuses on middle-income and creditworthy poorer countries, the International Development Association, which focuses on the world’s poorest countries, the International Finance Corporation, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes comprise the bank.  No ordinary bank, it focuses on development by providing long-term loans, grants and consulting services.  

Solomon, pointing to the six people in the front row, asked the audience to picture the challenge his organization faces: one out of six is in extreme poverty, two out of six are poor and vulnerable, while only one out of six has a chance of becoming prosperous.

“Those are unacceptable odds,” he said.

Calling the bank’s development work a “moral imperative, strategic and economic imperative” Solomon delineated the Millenium Development Goals that are driving the World Bank’s initiatives in detail: eradication of poverty, universal primary education, gender equality, reduction of child mortality, maternal health, combating diseases and environmental sustainability.

He explained the strategic implications and benefits of the World Banks’s efforts and encouraged the audience to question and do research to challenge assumptions and make sure institutions like his are living up to their goals.

“I’m interested in in learning how to make us a more intelligent bank,” he said explaining that under his direction, the World Bank is open to looking at other models and new ideas. He also urged the students to consider working for the World Bank and align their studies in order to be of value to it.

Solomon was in Tampa for a two-day visit to help celebrate the official launch of Florida’s World Bank Private Sector Liaison Officer Program (PSLO) hosted by Enterprise Florida. The World Bank Group’s PSLO initiative is a worldwide network of business advocacy organizations that promote trade and investment between countries in conjunction with World Bank Group activities.

“Mr. Solomon’s visit will provide Florida business owners with an excellent chance to learn more about how to conduct business with the World Bank Group and the various business opportunities available in emerging markets,” said Manny Mencía, Enterprise Florida’s senior vice president of International Trade & Development.

During the visit, Solomon is meeting with Florida business leaders and trade partners. He also toured USF Health’s new Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and the Port of Tampa.

In September 2011, Enterprise Florida became the seventh of now 10 U.S. organizations selected by the World Bank to serve as a Private Sector Liaison Office. Lorrie Belovich, is the representative and provides guidance to Florida companies on conducting business with the World Bank Group. 

Enterprise Florida, Inc. ( is a partnership between Florida's business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida.  Headquartered in Orlando, Enterprise Florida’s mission is to facilitate job growth for Florida’s businesses and citizens leading to a vibrant statewide economy.  In pursuit of its mission, Enterprise Florida works closely with a statewide network of economic development partners and is funded both by the State of Florida and by private-sector businesses.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.