Two cities thousands of miles apart came together Wednesday night. Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders signed a friendship agreement with the vice mayor of Jining, China.
“This is the first step we hope for a long lasting relationship,” said Sanders.
Sanders hopes the connection brings companies and jobs to Fort Smith.
“They now have contacts in Fort Smith,” he said. “They know they can do business here. They know we have the work force, the infrastructure, the technology that will attract them here.”
Fort Smith and Jining are both manufacturing cities. Governor Mike Beebe visited China, saw the similarities and the state helped make the match.
Talking via a translator, Jining’s vice mayor told 5NEWS she thinks Arkansas is beautiful and the people are warm. “We would like to explore more areas, fields, for the corporation between Jining and Fort Smith,” said the translator.
The Jining delegation will make stops in Washington, D.C., New York, Toronto, and Vancouver before heading back to China.
“They have some real access to opportunity,” said Steve Tyler, city director.
City leaders are optimistic about this week’s visit.
“This is the first step to encouraging them to suggest to their manufacturers who are interested in the U.S. to come to Fort Smith,” said Sanders.
The Jining delegation will leave Fort Smith on Thursday.