Limerick links up with California city

Limerick City and County Council has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Santa Clara, California, to strengthen economic and civic ties between the cities.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Kevin Sheahan was joined at the Sister Cities International Conference in San Jose by mayor of Santa Clara, Jamie Matthews, to sign the pact.

It aims to increase economic development, cultural exchanges, educational opportunities, and technical exchanges between both cities. The establishment of a permanent relationship will also increase awareness of both Limerick and Santa Clara as being centres for education, innovation, and business development.

Limerick man John Hartnett — now a hugely influential figure in Silicon Valley and the driving force behind a range of initiatives and organisations, including the Irish Technology Leadership Group — initiated links between Limerick and Santa Clara seven years ago.

Mr Sheahan explained that one of the key actions from the ITLG conference held in Limerick in January was to deepen the connection between Limerick and the heart of Silicon Valley.

“A framework was created with the ITLG and Limerick to provide a gateway to Silicon Valley for Limerick and the mid-west through trade and business development opportunities,” he said.

“This effective partnership between the ITLG and Limerick will enhance job creation opportunities for Limerick and mid-west- based businesses and share resources such as expert knowledge and specialist facilities.”

Mr Sheahan said there are close to 5000 people living in Santa Clara of Irish descent and there are also many civic and cultural reasons to develop this relationship further, particularly as Limerick celebrates its reign as National Irish City of Culture.

Limerick is the first Sister City for Santa Clara for more than 30 years. Schools from Santa Clara have enjoyed exchanges with the Redemptorist and Salesian Schools in Limerick while bands from the Californian city have taken part in the Limerick International Band Championship for a number of years. Exchanges have also taken place between both Irish and US rotary clubs based in the localities.

“Both our cities are going through transformations in terms of economy and technology and there are opportunities to build a relationship that will be mutually beneficial,” said Kathy Watanabe, president of the Sister Cities Association.

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