Local Delegates Return From Ghana
GRAND RAPIDS — Eighteen local delegates, including Mayor George Heartwell, visited Ga Distict, Ghana, last month to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Ga District’s sister city relationship with Grand Rapids.
Laura Moody, a nurse and
On a visit last November, Moody and Mary Edmond, a retired Grand Rapids Public Schools educator, put together an AIDS awareness and prevention education program to Ga District. This time around, the
One member of the delegation, Robert Heys, spent his time working with the District toward its goal of establishing a community radio station. Heys, treasurer of Sister Cities of
The Ga District has a number of commercial radio stations, but no noncommercial stations that “give a voice to people who want to speak out about something,” he said. The community would also like to build a media center. The content of radio programming would be up to Ga District residents, but a significant portion would likely focus on health issues and AIDS prevention, Heys noted.
CMC has promised to help the Ga District develop and deploy a community radio station, as well as assist in securing the necessary funds to do so. Heys said funding would most likely be in the form of a grant from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). CMC is submitting a grant proposal to UNESCO on Ga District’s behalf. CMC has further offered to support the fledgling station for the first six months with volunteer staff.
“It’s an evolving thing,” Heys said. “We’re looking at what they want and what kind of support they want.”
Also during the 10-day visit, Heartwell spoke with a few business owners there about potential business ventures and partnership opportunities between Ga District and
Located in the southern part of
The other infrastructure challenge is the country’s “episodic” electrical power, which “comes and goes,” he said.
“They run on generators, and I don’t know if that’s the kind of environment that is going to attract our manufacturers.”
On the plus side of the ledger, Ga District has a significant pool of semi-skilled labor that is eager to be employed and has a good work ethic, he said, adding there is a real entrepreneurial spirit in the country and a great interest in doing some joint ventures. He likened the wages to those of
Heartwell met with a few agricultural producers, one of whom owns 1,000 acres of cotton in the north part of the country and another who owns a pineapple plantation in Ga District, near the capital city of
The pineapple farmer, in fact, has been to
Heartwell was thinking of sending a delegation of business leaders there to look at the partnership possibilities, but after experiencing
“I’m a little disappointed. I thought I’d come back with some real live possibilities. It would almost take some kind of community-spirited purchasing on the part of one of our markets to make it work.”
Heartwell also met with representatives of the University of Cape Coast, which has a partnership with
In addition, he discussed with members of the National Commission on Civic Education a joint venture with