Officials from sister city Sundsvall explore Natchez for trade possibilities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

Natchez &8212; Two communities that hope to be sister cities do have a few differences.

A line in &8220;The Natchez Story&8221; film about the city shutting down for a little bit of snow got a big laugh Thursday from a visiting delegation from Sundsvall, Sweden.

The differences in weather notwithstanding, Natchez and Sundsvall officials hope they can learn from each other and boost business and tourism in their communities.

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&8220;We are always exploring opportunities for trade,&8221; said Pernilla Berg, who is managing director for Invest Sundsvall, a group similar to a chamber of commerce or EDA. &8220;We want to get our local businesses together with your local businesses.&8221;

Building business contacts and learning about how Natchez approaches tourism were among the topics Sundsvall Deputy Mayor Christer Berglund hoped to discuss during the group&8217;s trip, which ends Sunday.

&8220;We see that tourism is getting bigger and bigger,&8221; Berglund said. &8220;We are very bad at it.&8221;

Sundsvall does have tourism &8212; it is a major shopping center for northern Sweden and also offers skiing opportunities &8212; but Berglund said the city could learn from Natchez&8217;s organized tours and emphasis on Civil War history.

A tour of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center and other sites around the city was on the agenda Thursday. The Sundsvall delegation is staying at Monmouth during their trip to Natchez.

A group of Natchez officials visited Sweden last fall, hoping to learn more about the community.

Residents of both communities connected last year during a trip by a Swedish delegation to Madison. The two cities hope to partner as sister or twin communities, said Brett Brinegar, grants coordinator for Natchez.

&8220;They are interested in seeing what kind of attractions are here,&8221; she said.

In addition to boosting tourism with trip packages between the cities, Natchez and Sundsvall hope to encourage investing in businesses, Brinegar said.

&8220;We would like to meet some businesses that are interested in doing some business in Sweden,&8221; Berglund said.

The trip may also give officials from both cities a chance to look at their own communities in a new light, Berg said.

&8220;You can be home-blind,&8221; she said. &8220;You have resources around you, but you don&8217;t see them.&8221;

City officials hope to develop the cooperation between the two communities further.

&8220;We hope to have a long-lasting relationship,&8221; Alderman Bob Pollard told the Sundsvall delegation. &8220;We recognize the impact tourism has on economic development.&8221;