Using Charlotte, N.C., as a model, Savannah is accepting nominations for a 19-member board that will help the city take its global profile “to the next level,” Mayor Otis Johnson told GlobalAtlanta.
The Greater Savannah International Alliance will bring together leaders in government, business, hospitality and economic development to develop a comprehensive strategy for overseas engagement.
“I think we’ve been open all along,” Mr. Johnson said. “What we’re trying to do is institutionalize an approach to the way we reach out.”
While the alliance will facilitate educational exchanges, tourism and cultural events, its top priority will be bringing global companies to Savannah, the mayor said.
“We have some, but we don’t have as many as we would like to have, so our recruitment is paramount to this effort,” he said.
The alliance is modeled after the Charlotte International Cabinet, which promotes the city as an international center and manages its eight sister-city relationships.
Alexis Gordon, program director for the Charlotte cabinet, was integral in helping Savannah form its strategy, said Larry Stuber, a Savannah alderman who has been active in promoting the city’s global ties.
“We couldn’t have done it without her,” said Mr. Stuber, who headed up a Savannah City Council study group tasked with exploring whether the concept could be adapted to Savannah.
The city hopes the alliance will “define local government’s role” in helping economic development organizations attract new overseas investors and “build a culture of acceptance” in order to retain existing ones, Mr. Stuber told GlobalAtlanta.
Savannah has been actively pushing its global engagement. City leaders traveled to Wels, Austria, for a renewable energy conference last fall and hope to host a similar event in Savannah next year.
Last month, the city hosted a delegation from the Swedish city of Boras, which is known for its waste-to-energy programs. The delegation members, including the Boras mayor, visited waste-disposal sites in Savannah and surrounding communities. They also conducted seminars on building new enterprises by turning trash into heating and cooling energy, electricity and bio gas.
The visit was the latest in a string of reciprocal delegations traveling between Savannah and Sweden. Savannah inked a cooperation agreement with the city of Vaxjo last spring at a Swedish business conference in Savannah. In the fall, Savannah leaders attended an eco-building conference in Vaxjo.
In September, mayors from Savannah, Hinesville and Brunswick plan to attend a business expo in central China‘s Jiangxi province. The coastal Georgia cities established sister-city agreements with three Chinese cities last year.
Nominees for the international alliance should have international background or experience. To apply, contact an alderman or the city council clerk’s office at (912) 651-6441.