Sanford's Sister City Program

The Sister City initiative has three main goals: cultural exchange, economic development, and educational opportunities.

Sanford hopes to celebrate what makes each city unique as well as the similarities that bring us together. We also hope to explore how a sister city relationship can provide an advantage to Sanford-based companies operating globally and bring more investment to Sanford.

We anticipate that the relationship between sister cities will provide wonderful opportunities for students of all ages -- from educational and artistic exchanges to business training. 

The relationship could also lead to an enhanced connection between Central Carolina Community College and vocational colleges in Yixing.

Sanford's Sister Cities

Yixing, China

Sanford's first official Sister City relationship is with Yixing, China, located along the southern part of the Yangtze River.

Yixing is a city of 1.4 million people and is known as the Chinese Pottery Capital due its centuries-old tradition of purple sand pottery. The city's pottery heritage is the basis for its relationship with Sanford.

The process of establishing Sanford's official relationship with Yixing was streamlined with help from the Carolina China Council based in Raleigh. Central Carolina Community College's former Confucius Classroom also put us on good footing.

A delegation from Sanford attended 

Officials from the City of Sanford began communicating with Mayor Xhang Lijun in 2013. The official Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2015.

Atizapán de Zaragoza, Mexico

Sanford formed its second Sister City relationship with Atizapán de Zaragoza, Mexico, located approximately one hour northwest of Mexico City.

Atizapán de Zaragoza is the most populous municipality in the State of Mexico with more than 1 million people. It is part of the metropolitan area of Mexico City, which has 22 million people.

Some commonalities with Sanford include a love of art, an open for business philosophy, and a vision for prosperity that includes investments in technology and education.

Officials from the City of Sanford began pursuing a relationship with the city based on a long standing relationship between the Jonesboro Rotary Club and Club Rotario Las Torres Satelite. 

In June 2019, a delegation from Sanford traveled to Atizapán de Zaragoza for the Festival Internacional de las Artes Luminaria, a week-long arts and culture festival that hosted delegations from across the globe. Sanford Deputy Fire Marshal Alex Collazo joined the Sanford delegation and used the visit as an opportunity to share his knowledge with Atizapán's fire department.

A delegation from Atizapán de Zaragoza traveled to Sanford in October 2019 for an official signing ceremony. Treasury Secretary Fernando Reyna signed on behalf of Atizapán’s then-Presidenta Ruth Olvera.

Formal Deligation
Fire Department in Atizapan
Sister City Signing

Moving Forward

Though the Sister City program began as a City of Sanford initiative, officials and staff saw the value in allowing the Sister City committee to form its own association. In the fall of 2016, the Sister City Association of Sanford (the Association) filed its Articles of Incorporation and by-laws with the NC Department of the Treasury and has been granted non-profit status.

All membership and fundraising activities are managed by the Association's board comprised of Jan Hayes (president), Kevin Brown (treasurer), and Bill Horner (secretary). Mayor Rebecca Wyhof Salmon serves as an ex-officio member.  Sanford City Council member Byron Buckels also participates.

For more information about Sanford's program, contact Kelly Miller at 919-777-1133 or via email. To learn more about Sister City relationships, visit Sister Cities International.