By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — Ten months after signing a sister city agreement with the Dongyang, China, a delegation from Kokomo will be making the journey to China.
Two delegations from Dongyang already have visited Kokomo since the sister city pact was signed in January.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight will head the delegation of 12 local residents, including Kokomo High School student Craig Simon, who played ping-pong against Chinese officials earlier this year.
The delegation will leave for Dongyang on Oct. 25 and return on Oct. 30. The trip aims to continue the sister city partnership started earlier this year between the greater Kokomo community and Dongyang officials.
Joining Goodnight will be Steve Whikehart, development director for the city of Kokomo; Paul Wyman, business representative; Sue Sciame-Giesecke, interim chancellor for IU Kokomo; Rodni Lytle, Dean of the Ivy Tech School of Applied Science and Engineering Technology; Christian Chauret, faculty member IU Kokomo; Yan He, faculty member, IU Kokomo; Dr. Jeff Hauswald, superintendent of Kokomo School Corp.; Joe Dunbar, board president of Kokomo Schools; Mike Sargent, principal of Kokomo High School; Craig Simon, Kokomo High School student, and Andy Baker, president and co-owner of AndyMark, Inc.
“The goal of this delegation’s visit is to further develop ties between Dongyang and the greater Kokomo community by collaborating on strategies for business, education, and cultural partnerships for the betterment of both communities,” Goodnight said in a press release. “It is vital to the relationship that we show Dongyang the courtesy of visiting their community, just as two of their delegations did ours recently.”
Dongyang city officials visited Kokomo in April. Then in June, a Dongyang educational delegation visited Kokomo.
“By traveling to their community we can foster goodwill and build relationships that have unlimited potential to generate leads that will benefit almost every area of the community, including commerce and education,” Goodnight said.
The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance (GKEDA) is a primary sponsor of the delegation visit. GKEDA President and CEO Chris Hamm stressed the trip is crucial for developing ties with China.
“The recently-formed sister city relationship was the first step in establishing any future business ventures with Dongyang, but we must continue to build on that,” Hamm said. “The Chinese cope with obstacles in business by first forming very strong bonds and friendships and typically will only move forward with these trusted individuals in a business venture. For this reason it’s important that we return their courtesies and show that we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to develop business ties with them.”
BJ Moyars of Moyars Consulting, LLC has negotiated several Chinese-American, sister city relationships. Mr. Moyars, who is fluent in Mandarin, will be the group’s translator and coordinator.