By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE - A special city council meeting was held on June 5 to celebrate a new partnership between the city of Port St. Lucie and officials from the Chinese city of Huzhou.
Greg Oravec, city manager, addressed the delegates in the city council chambers and thanked them for their visit.
"When you bring your strengths and we bring our strengths, we can accomplish more together than we can separately," he said.
Huzhou is part of the Wuxing Province. The city was built about 2,000 years ago and has approximately 600,000 residents. It was proclaimed a national health city in 2003, and is named one of the top tourist cities and a model city for environmental protection.
While at city hall, the delegation were given small keys to the city, as well as a copy of the city's 50th anniversary history book, "A City for All People" and a digital copy of the docudrama "City of Dreams."
During the ceremony, they were presented with a reproduction of "A River Run Through It," a painting nature artist Guy Harvey created for the city in 2006. The original hangs in the lobby of the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.
The Chinese delegation presented a PowerPoint presentation about their city, and presented Mayor JoAnn Faiella with a silk scroll about Huzhou.
Throughout the presentation, Dai Binbin, the interpreter for the delegation, pointed out the similarities between the two cities.
"We have been working on this partnership for about a year," said Mayor Faiella. "We're very excited for the possibility of future shared economic and cultural ideas."
The concept of being a sister city with a foreign city came about when President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded Sister Cities International, a nonprofit network that creates partnerships through international communities. A group of volunteers in the community partner with city officials to offer the program.
According to Larry Pelton, president of the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council, Torry Pines President Richard Houghten first brought up the idea for Port St. Lucie to partner with the city in China because one of the institute's scientists was from that area.
After the city hall presentation, the city council and the delegation toured Port St. Lucie, with stops at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, the Kight Center for Emerging Technologies at Indian River State College and other manufacturing locations, finishing with a boat tour of the St. Lucie River and dinner at Club Med.
"This is breaking the ice, so to speak," Mr. Pelton said. "It shows we have businesses here that want to do business in China, and the Chinese have businesses that want to do business here."
The next step is for city and county officials to travel to the Chinese province in October to experience the culture and community.