Cleveland and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, will formalize a sister city accord as Mayor Tom Rowland and city leaders welcome His Excellency Governor Kep Chuk Tema and a delegation from the Southeast Asian nation at a civic dinner tonight.
“We look forward to spending a few days with the governor and his entourage, introducing them to our city’s governmental and business leaders, and familiarizing them with our community,” Rowland said.
A delegation from Cleveland will pay a return visit to Cambodia at a later date.
The 13-member Cambodian group arrived Sunday and was met in Atlanta by state Rep. Kevin Brooks, Dr. Fred Garmon, director of People for Care and Learning, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization presently engaged in a major construction and poverty-reduction effort in the Phnom Penh area, and others.
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, has 1.5 million inhabitants. It is a federal district like Washington, D.C., and also serves as the political, cultural and industrial center of the country. Its chief executive is accorded the title of governor, on a level with the heads of the 22 provinces of the nation. Governor Kep Chuk Tema also serves as a principal advisor to Cambodia’s prime minister, the national head of government.
The delegation will spend two days in Cleveland, travel to Nashville for a reception hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam, followed by a visit to Bristol to attend a NASCAR event.
His Cleveland stay includes a reception at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, tours of several local industries and the official event sealing the sister city arrangement.
Tonight’s welcome dinner will be hosted by Lee University president Dr. Paul Conn and will include city officials, local business leaders, and People for Care and Learning personnel.
Garmon became acquainted with the governor in the process of planning the development of a new city in the Phnom Penh region. The local group is building homes for about 8,000 Cambodians, including roads, water and sewage system, school, public market, health clinic, vocational training center and a park. The new town will replace temporary quarters for residents who were relocated to make way for commercial development.
The group traveling with the governor includes Phnom Penh’s director of administration, director of finance, director of planning and investment, and other dignitaries. His wife and daughter also accompany the delegation.
The Cambodian delegation expenses are paid by People for Care and Learning, the Phnom Penh government, and private donations.