In addition to trade delegations and tourism dollars, sister city programs create connections with international municipal officials, institutions, and businesses. These connections build trust, access, and expertise that help local businesses find new opportunities. Whether it is access to new markets, assistance navigating import and export regulations, or introductions to new partners, sister city programs expand the resources available to local businesses. Investing in sister cities means investing in the future of a community.

Click here for news on business and trade activities from the sister cities network.

Former Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Grey announces new direct flight from Washington, DC to sister city Beijing, China at the 2014 U.S.-China Sister Cities ConferenceSister city relationships can be critical to connecting transportation hubs and municipal officials to create commercial connections. In recent years, several direct flights between sister cities, including Washington, DC to Beijing, China; San Antonio, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico; and Boston, Massachusetts to Belfast, Northern Ireland have started, allowing for easier business travel and tourism. Several port-to-port relationships have been developed as well to increase trade routes and exchange best practices.
Economic development programming allows for an exchange of best practices between communities with similar industries, resources, or geographies. Minneapolis, Minnesota is known for its cold weather in the U.S., and its sister city Harbin is known as the “City of Ice” in China, turning its freezing weather into a huge tourism draw. In an effort to expand winter tourism in Minneapolis, city officials have turned to Harbin for ideas. The annual Harbin Ice Festival attracts more than 10 million visitors a year and features snow and ice sculptures, winter sports, and other celebrations. Minneapolis hopes to adapt some of Harbin’s activities to their own city and expand their existing activities to bring more visitors in winter months.
In 2014, officials from Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia, came to their sister of Nashville, Tennessee to learn how to be a year-round “Music City.” From musicians playing in airports, cafes, and public spaces to boxes on street corners radiating music and musically themed art incorporated in the décor of hotels, music is in the fabric of the Nashville community. Tamworth holds an impressive 10-day music festival each year, and through their sister city visit they learned how to better market their own culture of music and model themselves after Nashville’s success. Click here to learn more!
Sister cities Chicago, Illinois and Mexico City, Mexico sign agreementIn 2014, Chicago, Illinois welcomed 50 business leaders from their sister city Mexico City, Mexico to discuss trade and investment plans. Programs were designed to highlight Chicago’s efforts to support job growth and innovation in the technology, bioscience and culinary sectors. The current efforts focus on trade, innovation, and education to increase employment, expand advanced industries, and strengthen overall global competitiveness builds on a first of its kind agreement signed by the mayors in 2013. Chicago continues to utilize its sister city relationship to accelerate growth and drive its position in the global economy.

Leading Asia: Beginning in 2010, Sister Cities International implemented a 3-year program, Leading Asia: Renewing the U.S. and Japan Sister Cities Network, funded through a grant award from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP). The overarching objective of this program was to increase the institutional knowledge of U.S.-Japan sister city partnerships by providing opportunities for current programs to become more active and for new relationships to be established. This program included exchange funding, program research and conference sessions and webinars that will promote networking, capacity building, and innovative program development for U.S. – Japan partnerships. Click here for details on Leading Asia.