Mayor Heather Jackson shows some memorabilia she’s collected during her trips to St. Thomas’s sister city in China, Xuyi. She and St. Thomas Economic Development general manager Sean Dyke will be traveling once again Friday in an attempt to further the two cities relationship. (Jennifer Bieman/Times-Journal)
Furthering and cementing its relationship with its sister city in China.
That’s what Mayor Heather Jackson and St. Thomas Economic Development general manager Sean Dyke will be looking to achieve during a five-day trip to Xuyi, Jiangsu province, that begins Friday.
The trip follows last year’s first official visit of a Chinese delegation from Xuyi to St. Thomas, and would make it the third year in a row local representatives travel to China since the relationship was established back in 2011.
Despite the long-standing relationship, the expeditions have yet to translate into something more than cultural exchanges – something Dyke said both cities are working towards achieving.
“Right now I see it more as a cultural bridging between both communities . . . We are still in the relationship building phase of this process,” he said. “What we are looking to do right now is to form and solidify relationships with our counterparts in Xuyi.”
During the visit, Dyke and the mayor will be meeting with a number of businesses and officials from different levels of government to talk about business opportunities in different areas such as industry and tourism, as well as strengthening cultural exchanges between both communities.
The delegation will also be participating in Xuyi’s International Crayfish Festival.
Dyke, who has another visit scheduled later this year, said this type of exchanges allow St. Thomas to position itself as an international partner and could become the source of future economic development for the city by attracting foreign investment.
“When I go visit representatives of other communities, they like to see that we have a sister city,” he said. “They see it as a forward-thinking type thing to do.
“And you never know what’s going to happen in the future and if we don’t start building relationships now, then we are going to be behind.
“We are one of hundreds of communities that have sister cities in China, and it is a lot more noticeable when you are not doing it that when you are,” he added.