KEARNEY, Neb. — Cultural, educational, municipal, business and technical exchanges all are possible through the new Kearney Sister Cities project, said its leader, Jerry Fox.
“Kearney is at a place where it needs to have a higher profile internationally,” said Fox, a retired director of international education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“Kearney has become an economic powerhouse in the region. Through programs like Sister Cities, Kearney can broaden its international reputation and take its place at the international table.”
Fox conducted an informational meeting this week at the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce office.
Assisting Fox in leading Kearney Sister Cities is retired physician Ron Scott.
Earlier this year, Scott and Fox told the Kearney City Council about plans for Kearney to join Omaha and Scottsbluff-Gering as the only Nebraska communities that are part of the Sister City International program.
More than 600 U.S. cities are participants, with California, Texas, Florida and Illinois the leading states.
A 24-member advisory committee has been formed in Kearney.
Fox said Kearney aims to pair with two sister cities:
Opava, Czech Republic, population 60,000; and Dourados, Brazil, population 200,000.
Opava is a business, cultural and educational center similar to Kearney, Fox said.
Dourados sits in an agricultural region that produces soybeans, corn, sugar cane and cattle.
Fox believes Kearney students and educators could communicate regularly with students and teachers in the Czech Republic and Brazil, while business people and educational, medical and other community leaders might profit from new ideas and new associations.
There also would be opportunities for travel to the sister cities and to host visitors from them, he said.
Music, art and other cultural exchanges also are likely, he said.
Dave Clark, a former UNK chemistry professor, will lead a Kearney delegation to Opava in September.
Fox said a sister-city relationship with Dourados is in the formative stages.