The City of Cleveland maintains robust Sister City relationships all across the world.  Our 22 Sister Cities include locales as diverse as Taipei (Taiwan) , Lima (Peru), Bratislava (Slovakia), and Ibadan (Nigeria).  Partnerships between Cleveland and our Sister Cities are based on three guiding principles; creating economic development opportunities, raising cultural awareness, and facilitating educational exchanges.  There’s a formalized process through the parent organization, Sister Cities International, to become “twinned” with another city, which includes passing legislation and a legal agreement between the mayors of both cities. One of Cleveland’s strongest Sister City relationships is with Rouen, France, and on April 12th, the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office was proud to host a visiting delegation from Rouen.

The French flag flew above City Hall for the day as Mayor Jackson, Chief Valarie McCall, Alex Lackey and Jazmin Long (of Global Cleveland) met with the French group. The visiting delegation included Bruno Bertheuil, Deputy Mayor of Rouen, Richard Turco, Deputy Managing Director of Rouen, and members of the Rouen arts and cultural community including Claude Brendel (Director of the Rouen Conservatory), Thierry Pecou (Artistic Director for the Variances Ensemble), Lydie Turco (Documentary Filmmaker) and Richard and Lydie Turco’s young son Élio Turco.  Local members of the Northeast Ohio French community included Stephen Knerly (Honorary French Consulate and Lawyer at Hahn Loeser) and Cedric Le Rouge (Marketing Consultant and French American Chamber of Commerce Executive Director).

The discussion centered around plans for a 10th anniversary event in 2018 to celebrate the “twinning” of Cleveland and Rouen.  Possible ideas include a collaborative musical performance, a Cleveland Bastille Day celebration, and an recognition of the shared historical medical industry connections between the two cities.  Interestingly enough, both Cleveland and Rouen are big hockey towns, and the Rouen Dragons and Lake Erie Monsters Hockey teams each won their respective titles last year, so the idea of a possible exhibition game was suggested.  Another ongoing project is a documentary that Mr. Turco’s wife Lydie is directing about Native American medical traditions in the 21st century which features connections to tribes from Ohio.

Cleveland and Rouen were formally twinned in 2008 by Mayor Frank G Jackson.  Reasons for the connection include the fact that Rouen’s largest employer, Lubrizol, is a Cleveland company, and that the Lincoln Electric Corporation and MTD Mowers have facilities in Rouen.  Another reason for the connection is that both University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic can trace their origins to events surrounding WW1 involving medics from Rouen.  Our shared employment bases, economic activity, and burgeoning arts and cultural connections will make the 10th anniversary in 2018 of our “twinning” an exciting and beneficial expression of international cooperation for residents in both Cleveland and Rouen.