They say you can’t pick your family, but Charles County is looking for a sister—a Sister City, that is. The search was initiated partly in response to feedback at the Economic Development Department’s International Trade Seminar in March, where we discussed business opportunities in Africa.
To learn more about sister city relationships, the EDD’s Chief of Business Development, Lucretia Freeman-Buster and Project Coordinator, Daniella Djiogan attended the annual Sister Cities International conference in Houston,Texas during the summer. This year’s theme was “Cities Mean Business,” and our staff’s goal was to learn how to successfully develop partnerships with foreign entities to promote socio-economic opportunities within Charles County.
Benefits of Sister Cities
The benefits of sister city relations can include business and trade relations, community development, youth and educational exchanges, and arts and cultural exchanges. It's a great opportunity for Charles County entrepreneurs and businesses to scale up their level of business engagement on an international level. Also, it allows opportunities for residents to collaborate and participate in foreign exchange programs, which can
- enhance collaboration between local partners,
- expose the county to the global community,
- attract tourism,
- and improve the business climate and other economic opportunities.
At the Sister Cities International Conference
The Sister Cities International conference in July brought together community leaders, foreign diplomats, and others key stakeholders to connect and share their experiences in developing and sustaining cooperation between U.S. cities and global communities. Four distinct summits focused on U.S. partnership with China, Africa, Mexico, and Germany. The conference highlighted the opportunities and challenges that come with establishing a partnership aimed at promoting and strengthening citizen diplomacy around the world.
Beyond the Conference
During the conference, EDD met with local and foreign representatives who expressed interest in sister relations with Charles County. Delegates from the Republic of Ghana were eager to establish a bilateral partnership that would benefit both parties. As a result of this interest, the EDD along with Commissioner President Reuben Collins, met with the Ambassador H. E. Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barhuah of Ghana in late August to discuss business, trade, and tourism opportunities, as well as ways to expand cooperation between municipalities in Ghana and Charles County.
There are plans for the ambassador to visit Charles County in late October. The EDD also met with the Ambassador Carlos dos Santos of Mozambique prior to the conference in May, and following the meeting, a formal invitation was sent to the embassy of the Republic of Mozambique, expressing our interest in a Sister City relationship. They have also accepted our invitation and are interested in moving forward.
We look forward to establishing a meaningful sister city partnership on the continent of Africa as well as other areas around the world. Read more here about why the continent of Africa is a world player in today’s economy and an area to consider for business opportunities.