Dinner for our American cousins
I HAD the pleasure and the privilege to attend the reception dinner for our American "cousins" from the Plymouth Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.
Plymouth 1 (that's us!) welcomed 22 of our counterparts from across the "pond" on a factfinding tour.
They visited a number of businesses and employers in the city including Tamar Science Park, The National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth Gin (of course), City College Plymouth and UCP Marjon.
During their time in Plymouth 1 they had the opportunity to see our fantastic city and better understand the issues that we face everyday.
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Plymouth Massachusetts faces very similar challenges and whilst its population is only a quarter of that of Plymouth 1, it is spread over three times the geographical area.
Our cousins also have a waterfront and, whilst tourism is their main industry, they too boast a wide variety of business sectors including lobster fishing, manufacturing and medical services.
The main motivation behind their flying visit was to open dialogue with us over the celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Mayflower, to be staged in 2020.
Our American cousins have stolen a march on us as they have begun their planning already and have set up a not-for-profit organisation to lead the celebration events – Plymouth 400, inc.
You can see for yourself what they have planned at the website – www.plymouthma400.org.
If you were to follow in the Pilgrims' footsteps and travel to Plymouth Massachusetts, one of the things you will find is a full-scale reproduction of the Mayflower which is now a tourist attraction.
Here, in Plymouth 1, there is growing support for a Mayflower replica to be based here and provide not only a cultural value but become a contributor to the economy.
All this talk of celebration brings me to a more imminent event taking place only next year…
In 2013 your Chamber of Commerce (known in this article as Plymouth 1) will celebrate 200 years, making it one of the oldest in the UK.
I'm sure the Chamber has gone through huge changes throughout the two centuries of its existence but one thing that has remained is its core mission – to improve the Plymouth business community as a whole and provide its members with opportunities to improve their own profitability.