Louisville's Sister City since 2006
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The City of Leeds is recognized as the regional capital of the Yorkshire and the Humber with a population of 740,000. The River Aire runs through Leeds. It is considered to be an exceptionally green city with a dry summer climate. The cultural, historical and architectural heritage of Leeds is well represented by a host of museums, from the Royal Armouries to the Thackeray National Medical Museum. There are excellent sporting facilities in Leeds, including international cricket and rugby and horse racing at Wetherby. Leeds has a thriving art community with prestigious works at the Opera North, Phoenix Dance, Northern Ballet Theater and the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Leeds is also the business capital of Yorkshire and the Humber, one of the largest economic regions in the country, and one of the fastest growing economies in the UK.
Since the beginning of their Sister City relationship in 2006, the City of Leeds and Louisville Metro have engaged in successful exchange programs in several professional areas including nursing and law, and in the development of private enterprises such as the Frazier International History Museum. Louisville is located in the "Heartland of America", and likewise Leeds is similarly geographically located in the central part of the UK. Both cities benefit from their central locations at their countries' crossroads and have succeeded in creating a competative edge in their countries in commerce, distribution, logistics, biomedical technology, and entrepreneurship. Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and the citizens of Louisville recognized Leeds as a Friendship City at the Sister Cities of Louisville 2004 Summit. In 2006, Mayor Abramson, representing the city of Louisville, signed a formal agreement with Leeds.
The UK is the Commonwealth of Kentucky's #1 overseas market for leisure travelers. According to the Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in London, about 110,000 British travelers visit Kentucky each year, spending $93 million, which affects every segment of society. There is great potential for increased tourism between Louisville and Leeds.
In 1999, University of Louisville Hospital (ULH) received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program. The Nursing Department at ULH took advantage of this opportunity to initiate a partnership with the University of Leeds and to make drastic improvements to the work environment of nurses in both hospitals. PDU continues to spread throughout hospitals in England, but ULH is the first hospital in the United States to implement this program. The enthusiasm surrounding the Louisville/Leeds medical partnership is overwhelming. In 2003, Hospice of Louisville became the second hospital in the United States to partner with the University of Leeds to begin its program. While PDU teaches, it also provides the opportunity for interaction on a personal and professional level.
In addition to the exchange of information taking place through the two cities nursing schools, there has been a longstanding and valuable exchange relationship between the two universities law schools that dates back to the 1950s. Each year approximately three professors from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville participate in faculty exchanges with the same number of law professors from the University of Leeds. During the first several decades of exchange, faculty participated in yearlong exchanges. By the 1990s faculty began participating in 2-3 week-long exchanges. These exchanges have led to joint research, seminars, publications and lectures that take place on both sides of the ocean. The UK's Secretary of State for Defense Geoffrey Hoon is among those from Leeds who have lectured at Louisville's Brandeis School of Law. Currently, Leeds and Louisville are exploring K-12 educational exchanges. In 2009, Jeff Bile and Sylvia Bruton, both instructors at Spalding University, decided to initiate a pilot debate program targeting middle schools, where few debate programs currently exist. The two succeeded in obtaining sponsorship by Spalding University's School of Communication and Sister Cities of Louisville, Inc., in cooperation with Jefferson County Public School's Department of Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Programs. The first tournament was held in 2010, and a second in 2011 saw a growth in participation. A debate between Louisville and Leeds middle school students is planned for the near future.
Arts and Culture
One of the premier connections that has formalized between Leeds and Louisville is the partnership between Leeds Royal Armouries Museum and Louisville's Frazier History Museum. In November 2002, filmmaker and playwright Jim Mirrione traveled to Louisville from Leeds to help Louisville's new museums develop their peace-based agendas. Sister Cities of Louisville also promotes Peace and Friendship and hopes to collaborate in the future with the museums on these types of international exchanges.