German Officials in South Carolina to Discuss Progress on the Sister-State Partnership
Five government officials from the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate will visit South Carolina Nov. 11-14 to continue their sister-state partnership in education, science and research, culture, government, sports and tourism.
Chief of the Rhineland-Palatinate Chancellery Klaus Rueter and his delegation will review past successes with its South Carolina partners and discuss future directions.
They will also attend the grand opening of Newsplex, a futuristic newsroom for print, television, radio, online and wireless media located on the University of South Carolina campus. Newsplex is a collaborative project between USC’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications and German-based media publishing company Ifra.
The Rhineland-Palatinate partnership began in 1994 with a transatlantic conference on defense conversion, which was a discussion on how to deal with the closure of military bases.
“Since that time we have had many areas of common interest, ways that we can learn and benefit from one another,” said S.C. Budget and Control Board Executive Director Frank Fusco, whose office administers the sister-state programs.
Rhineland-Palatinate and South Carolina signed their first partnership agreement in 1995. Currently, there are a number of ongoing “sub” partnerships including sister-city agreements between Columbia and Kaiserslautern, and Newberry and Hamm.
There are also several partnerships among institutes of higher learning, including a study between the University of Trier-Birkenfeld and Clemson University on passive energy technology for single-family homes.
Francis Marion and Lander universities have active faculty and student exchanges with a number of institutions of higher education in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Florence-Darlington Technical College is involved with a distance learning project with a Rhineland-Palatinate school while York Tech in Rock Hill and Piedmont Tech in Greenwood are also in partnerships.
The Northeast Columbia Soccer Association is involved in a youth soccer exchange with Rhineland-Palatinate. Having just completed an exchange this past summer, the next exchange will be in April with girls ages 15-17.
The City of Clinton recently hosted a mayor from a small community in Rhineland-Palatinate to learn about government administration, and the City of Newberry hosted a choir from Rhineland-Palatinate.
The partnership has even trickled down to wine. South Carolina is importing wines from Rhineland-Palatinate, which is one of Germany’s largest wine producing states.
Rhineland-Palatinate is located in western Germany and borders France, Luxembourg and Belgium. Home to the Rhine River, Rhineland-Palatinate’s population of slightly more than four million is almost identical to South Carolina’s.
South Carolina also has a sister-state agreement with the eastern German State of Brandenburg. These partnerships are highlighted on the web site www.transatlanticpartners.com.
The sister-state agreements are important because a third of foreign investment in South Carolina comes from Germany, according to Upper Savannah Council of Governments Executive Director Patricia Edmonds, who has been liaison for the projects since the beginning.
More than 120 German companies are providing thousands of jobs in the Palmetto State, including companies like BASF, Siemens, Bosch, Aventis and BMW. BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, is headquartered in Rhineland-Palatinate and has three facilities in Upstate South Carolina.
“The German economy has made such an impact on our economy here in South Carolina,” says Senator John Drummond, who first approached Gov. Carroll Campbell about the notion of sister-state partnerships in 1993. “South Carolina is grateful for the economic investment that has occurred in our state.”
Drummond, Edmonds and former Budget and Control Board Executive Director Fred Carter helped make the ideas a reality. Carter, now president of Francis Marion University in Florence, is still active in the sister-state agreements particularly in the area of education.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to develop cultural, social, scientific and governmental relationships which are critical in today’s times,” Carter said. “All come from the ideas generated from the coming together of people from different agencies and organizations in Germany and South Carolina.
“These kinds of partnerships play a key role in dealing with our foreign counterparts on an economic level,” Carter said.
#64 / 11-7-02