Nov. 1 — Departure travel
Nov. 2 — Arrive in Shanghai, transported to Nanchang, picked up by sister city representatives
Nov. 3 — Meeting with Jiangxi provincial government, press conference at Jiangxi Hotel
Nov. 4 — Depart Nanchang for Yichun (Hinesville sister city), meet Yichun Foreign Affairs for discussion
Yichun mayors deliver welcoming speech
Thomas answers with a thank-you speech
Yichun market conditions introduced
Hinesville market conditions introduced
Formal Gift Exchange
Sister city agreement signed
Nov. 5 — Urban district visits, includes Exquisite silk mountain village, Xiujiang river park, Gulou observatory, the urban planning hall, economic development zone
Nov. 6 — Visits to craftsmanship industry and garden enterprise industry
Nov. 7 — Leave Nanchang for Beijing, meet with Georgia Department of Economic Development and Jin Xu, deputy director of American and Oceanian Affairs (equivalent to our deputy secretary of commerce)
Nov. 8 — Visits to Great Wall, Forbidden City and significant cultural and historic areas
Nov. 9 and 10 — Depart Beijing for Shanghai, Return travel
He and four other city and county leaders, City Manager Billy Edwards, Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley, LCDA global commerce specialist Emily Tsang and LCDA member and county commission Chairman John McIver, will board a Delta Boeing 777 early on Nov. 1 for a 15-hour flight from Atlanta to Shanghai, then to Yichun, Hinesville’s city sister in China.
Officials have passports and visas in hand, considered any medical shots and have been briefed on what to expect when crossing the national border.
“We’ve participated in classes with the city of Savannah on cultural norms and how to conduct ourselves in Asia,” Thomas said.
The 10-day trip has been in the works at least since February when the city received the invitation to enter into a sister city agreement from Chinese representatives during the last Mayors Day Conference in Atlanta.
“We discussed it and agreed among city council that it it’s necessary,” Thomas said.
Hinesville is part of the delegation that includes Savannah and Brunswick, which have their own sister cities.
And according to Alison Tyrer, Georgia Department of Economic Development spokesperson, at least 46 Georgia cities are enrolled in the sister city program.
The international partnership is like any project planning and requires goals in order to be successful.
“The value of these relationships really depends on what the city decides to do with them. It could be minimal or optimal,” Tyrer said. “There is a certain amount of follow-through that usually has to happen to keep them (sister city relationships) viable.”
And the time it takes to see results from a sister city partnership can vary.
“It just would depend on what’s set up between the sister cities,” Tyrer said. “In the meantime you’re developing relationships you hope that will carry you forward to your goals.”
Thomas said the Hinesville delegation will sign the official sister city agreement with Yichun on Nov. 4.
And he assured the city will be in good hands while key leadership is away.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier and Assistant City Manager Kenny Howard will temporarily take the reins, including for the Nov. 6 city council meeting.
“The city will run as usual,” Thomas said. “The business of the city goes on.”
Plane tickets average $525 one-way for each person. Accommodation costs are expected to be paid by the host city.