The Virginia Local Government Exchange Program will serve as a vehicle to explore and build stronger relationships between community leaders in our vast state. This pilot program is a partnership of the Governor’s Office, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) and Virginia Municipal League (VML). The program is modeled after the successful Sister Cities International program, which provides a forum to exchange information and build stronger relationships around the world. President Dwight Eisenhower created Sister Cities International in 1956 to promote better understanding, respect, and cooperation across international boundaries.
Two pairs of communities have been selected: Wise County and the City of Norton will team up with the City of Alexandria, and the City of Danville will connect with Loudoun County. Each community will assemble a delegation of local elected and appointed officials, state legislators, and other key stakeholders (chambers of commerce, tourism officials, civic leaders, planning district commissions, etc.). Each delegation will serve as a host to their paired community, who will travel and visit their partner once during 2020 or early 2021.
As part of their hosting responsibilities, communities will develop an itinerary that highlights tourism, natural and cultural assets, and economic development matters of the host community. Additional topics may be considered, but the focus is on an information exchange and highlighting community assets and opportunities. The goal of these meetings is to promote mutual understanding among peer communities and strengthen partnerships among the communities and their delegations.
Future iterations of this program may be considered. To be added to the list of interested communities for the next phase, contact David Conmy.