West Dundee has formed a sister partnership with its Dundee, Scotland, namesake -- a relationship officials hope encourages cultural exchanges and economic opportunities between the two towns.
Last week trustees gave Village President Chris Nelson permission to register the partnership with Sister Cities International, a 57-year-old organization that encourages relationships based on cultural, educational, informational and trade exchanges.
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Its aim is to create lifelong friendships that provide prosperity and peace through person-to-person "citizen diplomacy," according to its website.
When Nelson worked as an administrative consultant in Schaumburg, the Sister Cities relationship between that village and Namerikawa, Japan, led to direct foreign investment that resulted in several Japanese companies moving to a business park in Schaumburg, he said.
"They were led to Schaumburg by that relationship," Nelson said.
Nelson wants West Dundee to benefit from a similar partnership with Dundee, Scotland's fourth-largest city and home to three of the top 10 companies in Scotland.
"My experience has been that a Sister Cities relationship has an obvious cultural benefit, and it's exciting to explore other cultures," Nelson said. "It's even more exciting when that culture has pertinence to your community."
Shortly after Nelson was elected village president, he reached out to the board provost -- the equivalent to a mayor -- in Dundee, and explained the connection between the two towns. Settler Alexander Gardiner won a lottery to name the village in 1837 and decided to name it in honor of Dundee, his Scottish hometown.
After a few discussions and emails between the towns, Dundee agreed to partner with West Dundee.
Dundee already has a long-standing sister partnership with Alexandria, Va., so West Dundee officials need to reach out to the Washington, D.C. suburb to discuss what they'd like to do to facilitate a partnership, said Mary Kane, president of Sister Cities International.
She said it's not uncommon for a city to have "twins."
"It's a diplomatic group," Kane said. "We try to work well together."
If things go well, Nelson wouldn't be opposed to including East Dundee in the relationship, since they both lie in Dundee Township.
East Dundee Village President Lael Miller, who has visited Dundee, Scotland, said he would have to do more research on what the partnership involves before joining.
"If it brings more awareness to the community and if it brings business opportunities, then certainly we'd explore that," Miller said.
When it comes to the cultural parts of the exchange, there are no immediate plans for travel.
"With technology being what it is today, we can certainly have a regular discussion and dialogue with them without seeing them in person," Nelson said.
If you'd like to participate in the exchange, call Nelson at (847) 551-3800.