Local political officials are seeking to build Georgia’s economic opportunities in Asia by creating more Sister City relationships between Georgia municipalities and ones in China and India.

Kenneth Cutshaw, honorary consul for India in Atlanta, is hosting a public meeting Wednesday, May 30, to consider possible Indian Sister Cities for Atlanta. Individuals who have ideas for Sister Cities in India are encouraged to attend the meeting, which is to take place at 7 pm at the Global Mail on Jimmy Carter Blvd.

Meanwhile, Georgia Sen. Judson Hill, called together a task force May 22 to consider possible Sister Cities in China for municipalities in Georgia.

Forty-eight cities in Georgia have Sister City relationships around the world, but no city has a relationship with a Chinese or an Indian city.

Sister City relationships in the United States have traditionally been built on educational and social bonds, but such relationships can also grow business interests between two locales, Mr. Hill said.

“You tend to do business with people who you know, people you feel comfortable with,” Mr. Hill said.

Claire McLeveighn, director of international affairs and external relations for the City of Atlanta, agreed.

During the forum, Ms. McLeveighn discussed Atlanta’s 18 Sister City relationships, and said that Asian and European cultures have long seen city-to-city relationships as foundations on which to grow business partnerships.

Americans have been slower to warm up to the idea of Sister Cities as business facilitators, she said, because American business relationships are not typically built on friendships.

But in the past year, Atlanta has started to look to its Sister Cities for economic development opportunities.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin most recently led a trade mission to Fukuoka, Japan, and Daegu, Korea, two Atlanta Sister Cities. And in October, the city hosted representatives from 13 of its Sister Cities for a best practice sharing conference that addressed ways the cities could benefit economically from each other.

The idea is appealing to other Georgia municipalities, especially as China has become the third greatest importer of Georgia-made goods.

China imports $1 billion in goods from Georgia – a number Mr. Hill said that he would like to see quadruple in the coming years.

While Atlanta currently does not have a Sister City relationship with a Chinese city, it is considering applications from Dalian, Ningbo and Wuhan, China, Ms. McLeveighn told GlobalAtlanta.

In addition to Ms. McLeveighn, city representatives from Athens, Barnesville, Macon, Savannah, and Sandy Springs attended Mr. Hill’s forum, which is one of three that he has planned for the coming months.

During the meeting, Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson offered to host one of the upcoming task force meetings in his city. The second meeting is tentatively scheduled for August in Sandy Springs, according to Mr. Hill.

In addition to Fukuoka and Daegu, other Atlanta Sister Cities include Ancient Olympia, Greece; Brussels, Belgium; Bucharest, Romania; Cotonou, Benin; Lagos, Nigeria; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Newcastle Upon Tyne, England; Nuremberg, Germany; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Ra’anana, Israel; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Salcedo, Dominican Republic; Salzburg, Austria; Taipei, Taiwan; Tblisi, Georgia and Toulouse, France.

Other Georgia Sister City relationships include Augusta with Biarritz, France and Takarazuka, Japan; Columbus with Bistrita, Romania, Kiryu, Japan and Zugdidi, Georgia; Dalton with Dilbeek, Belgium; Decatur with Bousse, Burkina Faso, Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso and Trujillo, Peru; Dublin with Sanbongi, Japan; East Point with Limon, Costa Rica; Elberton with Mure, Japan; Gainesville with Ohito, Japan and Eger, Hungary; LaGrange with Aso, Japan, P’ot’i, Georgia and Craigavon, Northern Ireland; Macon with Kaohsiung Municipality, Taiwan, Kurobe, Japan; Macon, France; Elmina, Ghana; Gwacheon, South Korea and Ulyanovsk, Russia; Marietta with Heredia, Costa Rica and Linz am Rhein, Germany; Norcross with Hastings, England and Savannah with Batumi, Georgia; Patras, Greece and Kaya, Burkina Faso.

Sister Cities International, the organization that oversees Sister City relationships, keeps a database of Asian cities seeking U.S. partners.

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Sister Cities International

Jeff Breedlove, policy analyst at the Senate Research office at (404) 656-0015.

Kenneth Cutshaw (770) 350-3893