City puts focus on economic and educational exchanges with 4th Sister City

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Creating a unique economic and cultural bond, Mayor Tom Henry today officially finalized an agreement establishing a Sister City relationship between Fort Wayne and Taizhou, China. Mayor Henry was joined at the signing by Xue Shaoxian, Chairman of the Taizhou Municipal People's Congress; Tom Herr, President of Fort Wayne Sister Cities International (FWSCI) and a delegation from Taizhou.

The ceremony makes Taizhou Fort Wayne's fourth Sister City. The Summit City also enjoys similar affiliations with Takaoka, Japan; Plock, Poland; and Gera, Germany. While those longstanding relationships have emphasized cultural and educational exchanges, the partnership with Taizhou marks the first time that economic development is a primary focus.

"Our Sister City relationships are treasures that enrich Fort Wayne immeasurably. Each brings countless cultural, educational and civic opportunities," said Mayor Tom Henry. "As we celebrate our new bond with Taizhou, we highlight the important role of economic development in the Sister City connection. Taizhou offers the real potential for job creation, business growth and innovative exchanges beneficial to both communities. This is, indeed, an exciting addition to our Sister City program."

Fort Wayne began exploring Sister City possibilities with the country of China several years ago, after area groups and individuals advanced the value of forging an alliance. Extensive research by the City and FWSCI helped to identify likely options.

Taizhou is located in the province of Zhejiang, China – a state-like area that has been engaged in an active Sister State relationship with Indiana for 25 years.

The City has received strong support and assistance from the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, Pacific World Trade, FWSCI and numerous entities in building this new association.

Last November, Mayor Henry joined representatives of area businesses and the Regional Partnership on a trip to Taizhou to investigate economic development opportunities. During the trip, Mayor Henry and other local delegates attended a Fort Wayne-Taizhou Economy and Trade Seminar and met with owners of investment groups, a sports equipment company and manufacturing companies.

"We are honored by this Sister City relationship with Taizhou. This is an historic step forward in our relationship with our friends from China. We are laying the foundation for productive economic and cultural exchanges between these two great cities. We have already begun to see tangible results in business relationships that will strengthen this Sister City association for years to come," said John Sampson, CEO of the Regional Partnership.

The State of Indiana has hosted numerous groups from Zhejiang, centering on economic development opportunities. China is Indiana's fastest-growing export market and has contributed at least five significant job-creating investments to the state in the last few years in sectors ranging from manufacturing and automotive to agriculture and furniture.

Both Zhejiang and Indiana have actively promoted Sister City relationships in recent years. Indiana has 10 Sister Cities. Notable in this group is the link between Indianapolis and Hangzhou, Zhejiang's capital city.

Along with the economic ties, educational prospects remain a strong outgrowth of the Sister Cities program.

Recently, Canterbury School signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a Sister School relationship with Huipui High School, Zhejiang. Representatives from Huipui visited Canterbury last December, and Canterbury representatives plan to visit Huipui in October 2012. A group of educators, school administrators and college and university representatives is being formed to visit Taizhou schools in October.

Brief History of Sister Cities

The National program for Sister Cities International was created in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower to foster citizen diplomacy and create a more peaceful world. Fort Wayne Sister Cities International, Inc. (FWSCI) was established in 1976 and organized in 1983 as an Indiana 501(c) (3) Corporation. FWSCI is affiliated with Washington, D.C.-based Sister Cities International.

FWSCI has established relationships with Sister Cities in Takaoka, Japan; Plock, Poland; and Gera, Germany. FWSCI works to promote international understanding between the citizens of Fort Wayne and the citizens of our Sister Cities through the development of relationships fostered by frequent student, civic, artistic and business exchanges.