ECON and the Lakeland chapter of Sister Cities International have been working in close cooperation over the last year to not only fulfill the mission of Sister Cities, but also open up new and exciting business opportunities for the Lakeland based engineering firm. Over the last six weeks in particular, activities have included ECON and the Lakeland Chapter presenting at the Sister Cities International Conference in Jacksonville and welcoming the Mayor of Portmore Jamaica, sister city to Lakeland, for a friendship and commerce building visit.
Between July 12th and 15th, over 500 representatives from all over the world gathered in Jacksonville for the annual Sister Cities International Conference. Dignitaries included former Assistant Secretary of State Goli Ameri as well as Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution who spoke on how metro areas, specifically sister cities, can collaborate to boost exports and better connect with global markets and generate jobs. ECON representatives John C. McVay, Jr and Trae Holland joined former Lakeland Commissioner Jim Verplanck as conference presenters to share recent developments regarding ECON’s work with the multiuse development East Bay Water World located on Chongming Island, China, and the pivotal role that Sister Cities played in laying the foundations for the engineering firm’s success there.
ECON and Lakeland Sister Cities also collaborated on welcoming Mayor George Lee of Portmore, Jamaica between August 10th and the 16th, whereby the Mayor toured important infrastructure assets of Lakeland and Polk County, including the North Central Landfill and its cutting edge Bioreactor and renewable energy facilities. ECON is presently exploring a closer working relationship with the City of Portmore that would involve transferring a number of new technological approaches and engineering practices to the Jamaican city.
In the hopes of establishing a new sister city relationship in South America, the ECON team and representatives of Lakeland Sister Cities will be travelling to Babahoya, Ecuador in October to initiate the formalization of a relationship between the two cities, as well as evaluate Babahoyo’s infrastructural needs as a first step to pursuing potential engineering and planning roles for ECON with the municipality.