GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A group of 16 local and civic leaders from Rio Negro, Colombia, are on the Coast as part of the joint trade agreement the city made with Biloxi and Gulfport to soon import flowers to South Mississippi.
The Colombian delegation is getting a week-long dose of southern hospitality.
Wednesday, participants were taken on a tour of the new Southern Mississippi Ocean Science and Engineering building and the Gulf Park campus.
They’re here to learn more about their new business partners, much like the trip Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, Biloxi Mayor Andrew “Fofo” Gilich and Harrison County Development Commission Executive Director Bill Lavers recently made to Rio Negro.
“It’s been a pleasure to be here. You have a very clean city, and the hospitality here has been awesome,” said Clatia Angarita, part of the Rio Negro contention. “We want to reciprocate this treatment."
The reciprocation will begin soon in the form of flower shipments to the Coast. For now, it’s all about getting to know each other in terms of business, education, culture and in both cases, new beginnings in terms of past perceptions.
“In this case, we’re very happy to be here learning about topics like ocean engineering. That’s new for us,” said Dani Castano, Rio Negro city councilman. “As a part of an interchange, I think that engineering sparks commercial changes, and I think these things will enrich both cities.”
Lavers said the Rio Negro group has also toured Gulfport High School and the Port of Gulfport. The delegation is scheduled to be on the Coast until Saturday.