ALEXANDRIA — The Rapides Parish Police Jury is a step closer to becoming part of an educational, cultural and commercial partnership with a Chinese city.
A jury committee approved a motion brought to the panel by state Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria, to support efforts to build a sister community relationship with the city of Shangqiu. The full Police Jury will vote on the resolution next week.
The relationship would emphasize building mutually beneficial opportunities in trade, cultural and educational exchange and tourism.
“This is a relationship that could benefit all our citizens,” Dixon said. “It may not materialize in our lifetime, but it could lay the groundwork for something meaningful in future years.”
A dialogue about a possible relationship between the regions began when several Central Louisiana residents participated in a trip to China in March. In September, a delegation from Shangqiu, including Mayor Yu Xueyou, visited Central Louisiana and signed a letter of intent to pursue a partnership.
The sister community in Louisiana would be made up of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.
Dixon said resolutions of support are being sought from the governing bodies of those parishes and the municipalities within them.
“The Chinese marketplace is a growing marketplace,” Ball Mayor Jonathan Dean said. “It’s one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. I feel like it would be advantageous for this area, given the abundance of natural resources we can export, to get in on a piece of the action while we can.”