By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer
Six representatives from the Dongyang area, in eastern China, are expected in Kokomo Wednesday to sign a sister city declaration, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight announced Friday.
The home of 800,000 is a manufacturing center, and Goodnight said local officials have been working for about two years on establishing a relationship.
The six delegates are flying in on Wednesday morning, hopefully in time for a tour of the city before the signing ceremony at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.
“We were trying to find a city that would be a good fit, and build a relationship with them, and also work on our international ties,” Goodnight said Friday. “We began corresponding with [Dongyang] over a year ago.”
The delegation is expected to be led by Wang Yucai, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Dongyang Municipal People’s Congress, and Kokomo city officials are still lining up the itinerary for the group’s visit.
City controller Randy Morris said they’re trying to arrange a local factory tour, as well as a tour of some of Kokomo’s amenities. Dinner Wednesday evening will be at Pastarrific, Goodnight said.
The delegation is also interested in Kokomo’s education system. Kokomo Center Schools Superintendent Jeff Hauswald is expected to take the group on a tour of Kokomo High School.
After the signing Wednesday, the city is hosting a business reception for the group in the foyer of City Hall from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
The International Center, an Indianapolis non-profit, is organizing the event, and Goodnight said there may be opportunities for a reciprocal visit in the future.
“We hope that [a visit] will take place on occasion, not necessarily on a regular basis, but ongoing,” Goodnight said.
Located directly south of the provincial capital, Hangzhou, Dongyang has seen rapid growth and some of the same issues linked to rapid industrialization Kokomo saw in its early days. The area is considered one of the more affluent parts of China.
The area is also part of the Zhejiang province, where current Chinese leader Xi Jinping was governor prior to becoming part of the nation’s central leadership in 2007.
Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.