After 41 years as Dortmund’s sister city, Buffalo is not in their development plans.

After 41 years as Dortmund’s sister city, Buffalo is not in their development plans according to Dortmund’s Economic Development Agency.  You would think that after having becoming  partners pair in 1974 or 1977 there would be some type of visible and active business relationship.  The two cities don’t even agree with the year that they became sisters, or twinned as they say elsewhere in the world.  Dortmund claims 1977 while Buffalo says it was 1974

Dortmund’s Economic Development Agency (http://www.wirtschaftsfoerderung-dortmund.de/en/international/) claims:

International

As part of our international activities we inform you about your chances. We provide you with our services to help you to enter foreign markets.

We provide you with support in your search for international cooperation partners.

We advise you and arrange contacts to EU-oriented consulting institutions. We are pleased to pass on our experience with applying for and running EU projects together with information about EU funding opportunities.

As a member of the network of large European cities EUROCITIES we maintain links to over 100 major cities in Europe. Regional focus

The City of Dortmund Economic Development Agency arranges sustainable business cooperations and in Dortmund’s partner towns in particular. The current key regions are:

  • Leeds, Great Britain
  • Xi ‘an, VR China
  • South Korea

The concept behind sister cities goes back to the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower and is wonderful.

Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for individual sister cities, counties, and states across the United States. This network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in programs in 136 countries on six continents.

Sister Cities International helps advance peace and prosperity through cultural, educational, humanitarian, and economic development efforts, and serves as a hub for institutional knowledge and best practices to benefit citizen diplomats. Sister Cities International empowers individual citizens to become diplomats and represent their community and their country in new and meaningful ways.

We also strive to strengthen the sister cities network through strategic institutional partnerships, grants, programs, and support for our members. We motivate and empower private citizens, municipal officials and business leaders to conduct long-term, mutually beneficial, sister city, county or state relationships.

But why have them if you are just going to collect them like figurines for the living room shelf?

 

Borussia Dortmund, a missed a German marketing opportunity.

Borussia Dortmund, a missed a German marketing opportunity.    There was a two week buildup to the biggest football (soccer) match of the year on the European football calendar.  It  took place at London’s Wembley Stadium. Two German clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were competing in the finals of the European Cup Championship.

This was the first time two German clubs had ever faced each other in the European Championship match.  The match was played in London between  the two German clubs in front of   86, 298  spectators.  The match was sadly was won by Bayern Munich 2-1 over Borussia Dortmund.  It was the last match for Bayern’s 68-year-old manager, Jupp Heynckes, who is retiring and will be replaced by Pep Guardiola for 2013-14.  It had a worldwide television audience,  was well-played, fast paced and dramatic event of  David vs Goliath proportions.  Bayern Munich has a global following, has won five European Cups and  is loaded with money.  Borussia Dortmund on the other hand had won the title once (1997), plays in the largest football stadium in Germany, is on the rise, and is the eighth largest city in Germany five steps below Munich at number three.  Borussia Dortmund is also the only publicly traded club on the German stock market.  It is a people’s club.

Borussia DortmundSo how did Buffalo miss a marketing opportunity?  Buffalo and Dortmund are Sister-Cities.  They have been Sister-Cities since 1972, that is 41 years.  The  Buffalo Mayor’s office did not send at comment of support to the mayor of Dortmund.  The local media did not contact the Dortmund media about the match.  The local business community offered no congratulations, support or encouragement.  Even after the match, the Buffalo News and local television stations gave the score but never made mention that there was a Buffalo connection to the event.  The sports “reporter” on WGRZ  read the results and made no effort to find a way to pronounce the name of  Dortmund’s  goalscorer, İlkay Gündoğan (Il-kay Gun-do-gan).  We are a multi-ethnic community, what does he do?  He made a joke about it, how professional.  Ilkay is German born of Turkish heritage and Buffalo has a Turkish Sister-City – Yildirim-Bursa.

I believe the problem is that the Sister-City program is off little interest to Buffalo’s public and business communities.  No one knew Dortmund was a  partner.  Some may find this accusation absurd.  For me knowledge and using that knowledge, including sporting events, to  get our community in front of  people in a positive light is invaluable.  The USA and European Union are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement.  We should be preparing for it by developing increased contacts with our long time sister,  or twin as many call the arrangement, Dortmund.

Buffalo has ten Sister-Cities, three in Europe – Dortmund, Germany – Lille, France and Rzeszow, Poland.  I have a feeling we have do a poor job promoting and discussing these relationships  in the interest of  public, cultural, business, trade and travel opportunities.

Buffalo Sister/Twinned Cities program has overlooked Canadian neighbors.

Going back to 1961, the City Of Buffalo has entered into Sister/Twinned City relationships with 9 cities around the world.  The City of Siena, Italy was the first followed by Kanazawa, Japan in 1962. It is true you don’t hear anything about what having a Sister/Twinned City to the City of Buffalo. The partners are not in the news. The Buffalo Sister/Twinned City  on-line brochure has not been updated for over 2 years. It does not even include Yildrim-Bursa, Turkey (2010) or Yeongcheong, Rep. Korea (2011). A safe bet would be to assume that 98% of the local population, including government and media members could name 3 of the Sister/Twinned cities.

Even with this unhappy situation, it is made worse. The Buffalo-Niagara Falls border crossing with Canada is among the busiest in the world. Approximately 5 million passenger vehicles cross the Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie. Annual spending by 3.1 million Canadian visitors (9.2% of population) adds $900 million to the local economy. Our Buffalo Sabres’ biggest professional hockey rivals are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadians.

And yet, after 198 years of friendship following a nasty episode of tit-for-tat village burning during the War of 1812, there is no formal relationship between here and there. It would be sad to think this is because in reality no Canadian city wants Buffalo and/or Buffalo wants none of them. I suggest that this be given a hard look. Hands across the border is good for everyone particularly when it becomes possible to run community activities together to celebrate of differences and our neighborliness. Looking at the chart below you will find that the cities of Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Winnipeg do not have U.S. Sister/Twinned Cities arrangements. One of those for would be a good place to start relationship building.

Sister/Twinned Cities
BUFFALO, New York MONTREAL, Quebec TORONTO, Ontario
Siena, Italy Algiers, Algeria Chongqing, China
Kanazawa, Japan Amsterdam, Netherlands Chicago, Illinois
Dortmund, Germany Beersheba, Israel Frankfurt, Germany
Rzeszow, Japan Brussels, Belgium Milan, Italy
Lille, France Bucharest, Romania Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tver, Russia Busan, Rep. Korea Kyiv, Ukraine
Saint Ann, Jamaica Casablanca, Morocco Quito, Ecuador
Yeongcheong, Rep. Korea Hanoi, Vietnam Sagamihara, Japan
Yilidrim-Bursa, Turkey Hiroshima, Japan Warsaw, Poland
Nashik, India
CALGARY, Alberta, Canada Lyon, France VANCOUVER, British Columbia
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada Managua, Nicaragua Odesssa, Ukraine
Jaipur, India Manila, Philippines Yokohama, Japan
Naulcalpan State, Mexico Milan, Italy Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Daqing, China Moca, Dominican Republic Guangzhou, China
Daejeon, Rep. Korea Port-au-Prince, Haiti Los Angeles, California
Phoenix, Arizona, USA Rome, Italy Seoul, Rep. Korea
San Salvador, El Salvador
EDMONTON, Alberta Shanghai, China WINNIPEG, Manitoba
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada Setagaya, Japan
Harbin, China OTTAWA, Ontario Reykjavik, Iceland
Nashville, Tennessee, USA Beijing, China Lviv, Ukraine
Wonju, Rep. Korea Cairo, Egypt Manila, Philippines
Taichung, Taiwan
HAMILTON, Ontario Canada QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, Canada Kuopio, Finland
Flint, Michigan, USA Beirut, Lebanon Beersheba, Israel
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Bordeaux, France Gan Yavne, Israel
Fukuyama, Japan Calgary, Alberta, Canada Chengdu, China
Ma’anshan, China Namur, Belgium Jinju, Rep. Korea
Monterrey,Mexico Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso San Nicolas da las Garza, Mexico
Racalmuto, Italy Xi’an, China
Sarasota, Florida, USA St. Petersburg, Russia
Shawinigan, Quebec Paris, France
Valle Peligna, Italy Pekanbaru, Indonesia