The southern African city of Jwaneng, Botswana, will soon learn what plays in Peoria. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is leading a delegation there next month on an invitation from Botswana’s ambassador to the U. S., with whom Ardis has struck up a relationship during the ambassador’s visits to Peoria.
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Botswana is heavy in the mining industry, particularly diamond mining, for which two companies make equipment: Caterpillar, which is based in Peoria; and Komatsu, which has holdings in the Peoria area.
Peoria already has sister city relationships with Friedrichshafen, Germany; Clonmel, Ireland; and Benxi, China. Ardis says the link to Friedrichshafen is the longest and most active.Ardis describes the benefits of the sister city program as a three-legged stool: “You have the business relationships, you have educational relationships, and then the social relationships, (which) pretty much evolve because of the first two,” he said. The trip is scheduled for Feb. 18-23.
As far as the expenses are concerned, Ardis says, “Typically, when the mayor or council members go to a sister city for an anniversary … or when they first set one up, I believe that the expenses for the air and lodging are in some cases … comped by the other city. We haven’t gotten that far yet ... we may pay for part of our own; we’re waiting to see what the budget looks like and what we can put together.”