As a city of world status, Chicago is not only home to 2.7m people but also to many multi-national companies including: Boeing; Sears; Jones Lang LaSalle and Motorola. In fact, it was that business and financial service focus which also attracted Birmingham City Council and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to forge a relationship with what is often described as the power house of the Mid-West.
Sister Cities since 1993, Chicago and Birmingham display remarkable synergies in terms of their demographic profile, commercial and industrial base and the relationship citizens have with their respective city government structures.
Both cities benefit from being multi-racial and multi-ethnic, with citizens of common heritage. This has also provided good reason to share local government models of service delivery around issues of social cohesion and migration. At a broader level, city management, education (school, college and university level), social services, sport and culture have provided examples of practical mutual benefit to the administration of both cities.
Having just passed the 30th anniversary of the Sister City relationship, Birmingham and Chicago currently enjoy a very strong and productive engagement particularly around local government.
For instance, City Hall Chicago is keen to learn from Birmingham schools whilst for a fourteenth year education and social work practitioners have shared experience, knowledge and information around current issues affecting their services. The police forces of West Midlands and Chicago are also learning from each other how best to gather open and closed intelligence.
Higher education is another area where the two cities have been enhancing their relationship. Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham have extended their partnerships with several Chicago and Illinois universities leading to some city management comparative studies through the Institute of Local Government Studies.
An important event organised annually in the city, is the Chicago Forum on Global Cities, in which mayors from all around the world shares with each other regarding the increasingly important role cities are playing in global affairs. At the 2017 meeting, eighteen mayors from around the world participated in a discussion on innovations and challenges in financing urban infrastructure projects. This years, in June 2018, mayors will exchange best practices and strategies for promoting inclusive growth in our cities. Birmingham is looking forward to participate to the forum!
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