New Sister City Revitalizes Local Membership
Concord, North Carolina has had a prosperous sister city relationship with Killarney, Ireland for over two decades. In an effort to liven up their local membership, Concord decided to embark on a new city seeking adventure. Concord Sister Cities Association (CSCA) President, John Dunlap, and other members began preliminary talks with several cities, however it wasn’t until they found Freeport in the Bahamas that they felt they found a true match.
Although Freeport has a lot to offer in terms of business and tourism, it was the ease of communication and excitement of a new culture that got Concord hooked. “We’d like to focus on cultural exchange first, then move on to business and other exchanges,” said Mr. Dunlap. With the help of Sister Cities International’s Membership Coordinator, Taylor Woodruff, and the Cities Seeking Cities Program and Ginger Moxey from Immerse Bahamas, CSCA had a smooth transition into the new partnership.
Mr. Dunlap, accompanied by former CSCA President Rosemary Loftus, went on an outbound exchange to Freeport to meet with Ms. Moxey and see all that Freeport has to offer. While there, they toured around the city, visiting the Port Authority, local government offices, and tourist attractions. One of the great highlights was going swimming with dolphins, an aspect of island life that would get anyone excited about a sister city exchange!
After a fruitful visit, steady communications from Ms. Moxey and other Freeport officials, assurance from the Mayor of Concord, Scott Padgett, Concord’s City Council, and the unanimous approval of CSCA’s Board of Directors, Concord and Freeport officially became sister cities on July 10, 2014.
No exchanges have ensued as of yet, but the possibilities are endless for the cities’ future programs. A Bahamian delegation is being organized to go to Concord to celebrate their new partnership and partake in an official signing. Both are interested in hosting student delegations and exchanging medical best practices and business ideas. With Freeport’s major economy coming from tourism, they’re encouraging visitors from Concord to enjoy its many great features, including beaches, shopping, golf courses, and restaurants. Concord’s close proximity to NASCAR serves as a favorite pastime for many North Carolinians. Freeport is quite interested in learning about best practices from their new sister in building and running a race track of their own.
This new partnership has triggered a revitalization in the CSCA membership and Concord’s community involvement. CSCA is getting new board members, garnering local media support, involving the local Chamber of Commerce in programming efforts, approaching sponsors, and is aiming to bring in new youth members through social media and educational exchange. They're even in talks with a potential third sister city in Italy that has showed a great interest in basketball...something for which North Carolina is very well known!
CSCA members and the community at large is excited to see what’s in store for their sister city programs, especially now that they have two strong ones intact. To stay up to date with the latest from CSCA and the Concord-Freeport partnership, visit www.concordsistercities.org.