Canton creating Sister Cities in Israel, Mexico to encourage investment
PHOTO: The City of Saltillo, Mexico has recently become a Sister City to Canton, Ohio.
Canton City Council recently approved a resolution supporting the City’s intention to enter into official sister city relationships with Akko, Israel (pop. 46,000) and Saltillo, Mexico (pop. 649,000). The resolution is the latest in a series of actions undertaken by the City to pursue economic development opportunities in international markets. Canton currently has no official sister cities on record.
By establishing relationships with sister cities around the globe, the Department of Development hopes to make it easier for Canton businesses to sell their products in foreign markets. Also important is the opportunity for foreign companies to consider investing or opening U.S. operations in our local economy. One example of the positive impact that foreign investment can have in Canton was the acquisition of Republic Engineered Products by Mexican steel conglomerate Industrias C.H. The facility was scheduled to close just before it was purchased and remains open to this day thanks to its new owners. By fostering good working relationships with international companies, the Mayor believes we can begin to reverse the negative effects of free trade agreements like NAFTA and level the playing field for local workers.
In addition to the economic benefits of sister city relationships, proponents cite the opportunity for unique cultural and educational exchanges that are made possible by partnering abroad. Supporters of the Mayor’s Sister City effort include Canton Museum of Art director M.J. Albacete and Malone University president Dr. Gary Streit, who have each begun working on programs that could be implemented between Canton and its new international partners. Examples of such programs include new cultural exhibits at the Museum of Art (like the highly successful Kimono as Art exhibit held earlier this year) and student educational exchange programs at Malone.
The Cities of Saltillo, Mexico and Akko, Israel are the first of what we hope will be many fruitful partnerships with cities around the world. Municipalities in Germany, Japan, and other industrialized nations are also being considered for future sister city status.