Madrid Brazil Sister Cities For Miami
By Meisha Perrin
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado says he plans to finally solidify a sister city relationship with Madrid that’s been in the works for four years while he’s in Spain this week for the International Mayors Conference.
Madrid’s mayor, he said, has expressed her desire to finalize the long-pending accord while he is on the three-day trip to the Iberian Peninsula that began Tuesday.
Both cities had originally approved the agreement in 2008 and were awaiting signatures of then Miami mayor Manny Diaz and Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón to seal the deal, but the signatures were never collected.
Madrid’s current Mayor Ana Botella, however, is eager to move the sister city relationship forward, Mayor Regalado said.
And after that’s done, he said, Miami has a lot of plans for doing business with Spanish companies, including meeting with a group of business leaders who are interested in investing here.
"I hope that at the seminar in Madrid we can draw more interest in investment in Miami," he said, especially in real estate and construction.
In addition, Mayor Regalado said, he will be presenting the EB5 investment visa program at the seminar in hopes of spurring interest in the pending investment visa regional center the city hopes to run from city hall.
Under the EB5 program, persons who invest at least a half million dollars in a project that creates or helps maintain at least 10 full-time permanent jobs for US workers are granted conditional visas for themselves and their immediate families.
"Investors from Spain are really interested in doing business in Miami," he said, "If we could add EB5 to their interest, I think we can bring some business to Miami."
But that’s not all for Miami and its siblings.
"We wrote a letter to the consulate in Brazil to intercede to get a visa for the Mayor of Itajai," Mr. Regalado said, "because he wants to come to Miami to sign [a sister city] agreement."
The mayor, he said, is willing to come to Miami to formalize an agreement but is awaiting visas for himself and his delegation.
"That’s the holdup in the process of a sister city relationship," Mr. Regalado said.
Miami and Itajai began working on a sister city accord last year after then-City Commission vice chairman Marc Sarnoff visited the Brazilian city for the Volvo Ocean Race and officials recognized similarities between the two port cities. The Mayor’s International Council approved the relationship in January.
Mayor Jandir Bellini was expected to come to Miami in March, according to Mr. Regalado, but has yet to acquire the visas.
And when he does, Mr. Regalado said, the Downtown Development Authority, of which Mr. Sarnoff is chair, is to sponsor events and tours for Mr. Bellini and his delegation.
The purpose of the relationship, according to Mr. Bellini’s proposal, is to strengthen institutional links and enhance relations between Miami and Itajaí, which will be Miami’s first sister city in Brazil.
Sister cities lay the groundwork for trade and other business opportunities and cultural and educational exchanges between partnered cities.To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.