TAMPA — Tampa is playing host this week to a delegation from Le Havre, Tampa’s sister city on the north coast of France.
The visitors are mostly lawyers, guests of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. They spent Tuesday in the county’s courts learning about the American judicial system. Today, they met with Tampa City Council members. They’ll also tour the Port of Tampa and the University of South Florida’s Center for Advance Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown before leaving Friday.
While Le Havre Deputy Mayor Olivier Jougla leads his delegation around Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be signing Tampa’s ninth sister-city agreement in Port Alegre, Brazil, during an economic development trip this week.
Over the past two years, Buckhorn has used Tampa’s sister cities around the world as the entry point for economic and cultural exchanges. He led a business delegation to Barranquilla, Colombia, during a state-led mission to that country in December. In 2011, he led another delegation to Ashdod during a trip to Israel.
City Councilman Harry Cohen was part of the trip to Israel. He joined Council Chairman Charlie Miranda and Councilman Mike Suarez during Wednesday’s meeting at city hall with the visitors from Le Havre.
Cohen said the sister city program is a way to bridge the distance between countries and cultures, taking advantage of other people’s creativity.
“In each place, you look for the things you have in common and capitalize on that,” Cohen said. “It’s a very human exchange.”
Le Havre is the largest container port in France and the fifth largest port in Europe. It sits at the mouth of the River Seine, about 120 miles northwest of Paris.
Tampa and Le Havre has been sister cities since 1993. Tampa sent a trade mission there in 1999. The Hillsborough County Bar Association sent a delegation to Le Havre last year. Representatives of the Normandy School of Business will visit the University of South Florida in December.
“We can feel the dynamism here,” Jougla said through an interpreter.