Plymouth delegates visit Plymouth ahead of 2020 celebrations
PLYMOUTH met Plymouth when a fact-finding team from our namesake in the USA crossed the pond to build links before the 2020 Mayflower celebrations.
A party from Massachusetts' Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce is spending three days visiting some of the city's top businesses and employers.
The idea is to build links and make joint plans to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's historic transatlantic voyage, eight years from now.
The 22-strong US delegation is due to visit Tamar Science Park, UCP Marjon, City College Plymouth, the National Marine Aquarium and Plymouth Argyle.
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The visitors were welcomed at Coxside's Royal Western Yacht Club by representatives from Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.
Denis Hacks, executive director of the American town's chamber of commerce, said: "The 2020 anniversary is at the top of the list and we have many similarities, things like economic development, tourism, and waterfront activities."
He said Plymouth Massachusetts, at 60,000 people, is much smaller than our city, but covers a bigger area: 102sq miles as opposed to 30sq miles.
And the American chamber covers nine separate communities.
"Tourism is our number one industry," Mr Hanks said. "But there is also medical, services and some manufacturing."
Mr Hanks said his delegation included representatives from cultural groups, education, community leaders and business, most of whom had not visited our city before.
Lord Mayor Mike Wright welcomed the visitors to "old Plymouth" and said: "We are an old city but have a young heart."
He told them: "We can work together to make the most of 400 years of shared history – 2020 will be a fantastic year.
"We will be delighted to play a part in that celebration."
Cllr Wright highlighted some of Plymouth's historic sites, including the Sherwell Centre, Plymouth Gin and, of course, the Mayflower Steps, which have connections to the USA.
And he boasted of the city's current successes, such as the university, Theatre Royal, and more than 300 maritime related businesses.
"We may be an old city but we have a lot of fresh ideas," he said. "I want you to get to know old Plymouth as a place to do business in and to feel at home in."
Council leader Tudor Evans said Plymouth has a bright future as a centre for new technologies.
And he said the two Plymouth would work together during the next eight years on an event which would be significant "not just for this city and your town but the whole world".
"We want to be part of that celebration, and on behalf of the UK," he said. "We want to hold hands with you on this adventure."
Richard Smith, a director of our Chamber of Commerce, said: "Plymouth wants to build links with the USA, and with our historic connection it makes sense."