Published 9 Aug 2011 at 8:38 PMBy Diego Cruz

on the Daily Texan 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced Tuesday the designation of Jacmel, Haiti, as a Friendship City of Austin.

Jacmel is often compared to Austin, Leffingwell said in a press release, a similarity primarily found in their creative communities including art and film.

The effort to aid the city following the 2010 earthquake which devastated the country may serve as a model for other U.S. cities to adopt Friendship Cities in Haiti through a relationship that includes tourism, trade and cultural interaction, said Matt Curtis, a spokesman for Leffingwell’s office.

“If our communities can exchange culture, promote tourism and economic development, the benefits will be significant,” Leffingwell said.

Curtis said the designation would increase awareness of the similarities between both cities in an effort to strengthen the links between them.

“The mayor’s number one goal is that our community can help in the reconstruction of Jacmel,” Curtis said.

One example is the exchange in film between both cities, which will develop a richer appreciation of the material each has to offer, said Kevin Johns, director of economic growth and redevelopment for the city of Austin in the press release.

“The Friendship City relationship between Austin and Jacmel will create tremendous creative industry opportunities,” Johns said.

The designation of a Friendship City pushes communities to encourage cooperation in economics, education and culture, according to the press release.