In 1994 Löhne, Germany became a sister city of Columbus, Indiana. This relationship was established to foster ties between the two similarly sized cities. Perhaps the major interest was due to a large percentage of the population and surrounding areas having ancestors who emigrated from this same region in Northern Germany.
This secret was unlocked in April 1989 when Hans-Günter Lichte and his wife Edith came to Columbus in search of descendants from her great-grandfather Scheidt. Family members were found buried in the cemetery of St. Paul Lutheran Church at Clifty.
Once the connection was made, groups led by Hans-Günter Lichte of Löhne and Arthur Schwenk of Columbus began to visit back and forth. Also, a student exchange program was developed by Columbus North High School with the high school in Löhne.
The two cities were united in a partnership that bonded cultural and religious similarities.
Miyoshi, Japan is the second sister city of Columbus, Indiana. Our relationship began July 5, 1994 with the signing of a cultural partnership agreement by Mayor Bob Stewart and Mayor Michio Tsukamoto. The formal resolution for the twinning is November 30, 1994.
Neighboring Miyoshi is Toyota, home of Toyota Motor Company. Aside from having similar industries, Columbus and Miyoshi are the same size.
Miyoshi’s introduction to the Columbus community began with business introductions of Gerry Seim and Dick Yamamoto. Family exchanges formalized into community, student, teacher, and friendship programs at both locations. Additionally, Rotary Clubs played a part in the early years. Exchanges have developed at many levels- not just economic. In recent years an all female exchange occurred between the two cities.
Hundreds of cherry trees growing in Columbus and the sidewalk bricks of the downtown Friendship Alley have been donated to Columbus from our sister city.
Cherry blooms are the most popular flower in Japan.
Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong and Miyoshi Mayor Tomohide Kuno continue the bond of friendship and business.
The city of Wuxi is located on the Yangtse River in the Jiangsu Province of the People’s Republic of China. Wuxi became our third sister city on April 14, 2008 during a signing ceremony attended by Mayor Fred Armstrong and other community leaders. Wuxi is a large city with a population of 6.2 million persons (nearly equal to the State of Indiana), and given its size and tremendous development, it has been dubbed the “little Shanghai”.
Wuxi is a famous cultural city with a history of over 3,000 years. The establishment of the city can be traced back to the end of the Shang Dynasty. Taibo, the eldest son of emperor Zhouwu in the West Zhou Dynasty came to Wuxi to introduce the inland culture to the south and created the Wu culture. As one of the birthplaces of China’s national industry and commerce, today Wuxi is recognized as one of the fifteen economic centers in China. In 2010, the city’s GDP was RMB 575.8 billion ($90.2 billion USD), doubling that of 2005 and with growth rate of 13.5% per year. Like Columbus, Wuxi strives to keep a healthy and growing economy by improving its competitiveness among its peers, with a focus on building an innovation-oriented city.
The Columbus delegation to the 5th Wuxi International Siter Cities Forum in 2010 included representatives of IUPUC and Ivy Tech. In November, Ivy Tech Community College announced a partnership with Wuxi Professional College of Science and Technology, due to similarities of programming and pre-existing relationships formed by Cummins and the City of Columbus in Wuxi.
Expected to become our fourth sister city in September of 2011 is the city of Xiangyang of the Hubei Province of the People’s Republic of China. Xiangyang sits along the Han River, which runs through the heart of the city. Xiangyang was once two separate, ancient cities and by preserving its rich history, one of the oldest still-intact city walls in China remains in Xiangyang. As of 2010, the city is the second largest in Hubei, with an urban population of approximately 466,000 and surrounding population of more than 5.7 million people.
Xiangyang’s leading industrial sectors include textile manufacturing, machinery manufacture, chemical processing, electronics, and construction materials. Agricultural resources are significant with its chief farm products including grain, cotton, vegetable oil crops, tea and fruit. As the home to Dongfeng Motors, Xiangyang is also a well-known automotive hub.
Columbus officials first visited Xiangyang (then Xiangfan) in 2007, building upon established relationships by Cummins and Dongfeng Motors. In October 2009, officials from Xiangyang made a visit to Columbus. The connections with Xiangyang company Dongfeng Motors has become increasingly important to Columbus. In November of 2008, local firm LHP Technologies joined with Dongfeng Motor Import & Export and Yinlun Machinery to create LHP Yinchang in Columbus. The relationship with Dongfeng Motor Import Export continued, when in April 2010, the Columbus Economic Development Board announced it would partner with the company’s office in Shanghai to house the Columbus EDB – Shanghai Office.
Xiangyang and Columbus look forward to fostering additional cultural and economic development exchanges in the years ahead.