Italian footwear manufacturers operating in the industrial cluster of the Marche region have launched a “Shoes Valley” project, which aims to entice local entrepreneurs to join forces and to promote their region. The project, which has the support of local authorities, replicates similar initiatives already undertaken in the neighboring region of Emilia-Romagna such as the Wellness Valley advocated by Nerio Alessandri, the successful founder of Technogym, a leading fitness equipment manufacturer, and Via Emilia, a public project to promote the region. The Marche region hosts about a third of Italy's footwear industry. The cluster comprises about 1,500 companies, of which some 400 are manufacturing firms. In an interview with the daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Salina Ferretti, general manager of Falc and the local shoemakers' representative, explained that the purpose of Shoes Valley is to “defend and reinforce” the industry's skills, foster innovation and enhance the quality and tradition of shoemaking, while integrating the local industry within the territory's cultural and culinary heritage to attract tourists, clients and also new investors.