By Todd Pratt

The distance between Hillsborough County and Ireland just got a little shorter with the signing of a cooperative agreement with South Dublin County.

Sarah Holland, the mayor of South Dublin County, and Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Lesley “Les’’ Miller, Jr. inked the agreement at a meeting between economic and political leaders from both governments in May. The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners had given unanimous approval to the agreement.

The ceremonial signing and gift exchange came at the end of a three-hour meeting at the Frederick B. Karl County Center during which both governments gave overviews of their economy, geography, challenges and successes. South Dublin County, approximately 4,100 miles from Tampa, has a population of about 275,000 and is one of Ireland’s most important economic drivers.

The agreement is intended to eventually yield practical results as the two counties promote beneficial relationships in business, trade, tourism, education and other areas of mutual interest.

Both sides, for example, expressed interest in eventually establishing non-stop air service from Dublin to Tampa International Airport, and in the possibility of educational partnerships between the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa and the seven major higher education institutions in the South Dublin County area.

Miller said a stronger relationship between the two groups could produce tangible benefits for Hillsborough County businesses in the future.

“As you can see, South Dublin County has lots to offer,’’ Miller said. “And so does Hillsborough County.’’

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