Fort Smith will host a delegation from the Chinese city of Jining on Oct. 3 and 4, according to Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders. Sanders made the announcement at the end of the Tuesday (Sept. 18) Fort Smith Board of Directors meeting.
Jining, homeland of the famous philosopher Confucius and located in the Shandong Province, is a large city (around 8.3 million people) with strong mining and manufacturing industries. Sanders invited the public to meet the Chinese delegates at 6 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Fort Smith Convention Center (FSCC). The delegation will stop by Fort Smith following a visit to Little Rock, Sanders told the audience Tuesday night.
“At this time, there will be nine municipal officials from Jining. The delegation will be led by the vice-mayor of Jining. They will be touring the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, have lunch at the Governor’s Mansion with Gov. Beebe, and then they will come here the evening of Oct. 3,” Sanders said, adding that the delegation is sending “a special exhibit of Jining,” which will be on display at the FSCC event.
“This is a good opportunity for our city to establish some initial relationships with these officials with the hope that when they return to China, that they have manufacturing companies that are interested in facilities and employment opportunities in Fort Smith,” Sanders said.
Gov. Mike Beebe met with the Mayor of Jining and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shandong Province during his trip to China in April, according to an official news release from Fort Smith Communications Manager Tracy Winchell.
During the Fort Smith visit, the delegation will also visit the National Historic Site and tour a local manufacturing plant, the release stated.
Tim Allen, chief operating officer for the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted: “Fort Smith has a lot to offer China when it comes to a business relationship. We believe that once they see the number of world-class companies here, they’ll agree that Fort Smith is open for international business.”
Prior to the Sanders announcement, directors voted unanimously to amend Chapter 2, Article III, of the Fort Smith Municipal Code, extending filing deadlines that fall on weekends or holidays to the next business day. Secondly, the amendment now requires ballot titles to be filed separately from Initiative or Referendum petitions, and directors will not be required to confirm Initiative or Referendum petitions that have met proper protocol for addition to general election ballots.
The only exception to this last change is when the petitioner identifies a special election day that does not comply with election laws. Then, the board would hold the power to correct the special election date.