MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Although half a world away from one another, Sister Cities Morgantown and Xuzhou in the Peoples Republic of China shared common ground at a day-long meeting, highlighting initiatives for redeveloping old mined land and industrial sites to promote economic development.
Delegations from the two cities met in Morgantown Aug. 21 hosted by the West Virginia University U.S.-China Energy Center of the Energy Institute / National Research Center for Coal and Energy and Morgantown’s Sister Cities Commission.
About 400 miles south of Beijing, Xuzhou has a population of about 3.4 million whose economy, like Morgantown’s, is driven in part by coal mining and higher education.
“We hope to accomplish an economic development push where we share information in areas that can help each city. That’s where we get the private sector involved with the cooperation of city and county government officials,” said George Lies, the Sisters Cities Morgantown commission chair who is retired from WVU’s Office of Global Affairs.
“I was previously involved with WVU’s student exchange program with the China University of Mining and Technology. CUMT is in Xuzhou city. So the relationships that the Sister Cities program builds with Xuzhou supports the platform between WVU and CUMT students.”
Morgantown established a formal Sister Cities relationship with Xuzhou in 2016, having held Friendship Cities status since 2012. The 2016 agreement includes an interest in sharing information and research about coal mining reclamation and economic development.
Founded in 1956, Sister Cities International promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation, one community at a time, through cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges.
Speakers included Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU, on redeveloping abandoned industrial sites, and Qingyun Sun, associate director of the WVU US-CEC, as well as representatives from local government and developers.
The 10-member Xuzhou delegation included Cui Feng, Xuzhou deputy secretary general, and Sun Weimin, Xuzhou deputy director of Foreign Affairs.
CONTACT: Tracy Novak
EI/NRCCE Communications Director
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