Indiana-China Sister City: Bedford, Indiana & Fenghua, Zhejiang

slideshow3BY ECHO LU

Bedford is an Indiana city in Shawswick Township and Lawrence County. According to the 2010 census, the population of Bedford was 13,413.

The city is the county seat of Lawrence County, which was formed in 1818 from land given by Orange County. The county was named after Capt. James Lawrence, who uttered the famous words, which was also his “dying command” “Don’t give up the ship.” After being mortally wounded during the War of 1812, where he commanded USS Chesapeake in a single-ship action against HMS Shannon commanded by Philip Broke.

The original county seat was in Palestine, four miles to the south, but was moved, at the urging of the legislature, to a new location, as the original location near the White River was deemed unhealthy because of malaria spread by mosquitoes. The new site was named Bedford at the suggestion of a prominent local businessman, Joseph Rawlins, who had relocated to the area from Bedford County, Tennessee. It incorporated as a town in 1864 and received its city charter in 1889. Bedford was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Bedford North Lawrence High School is known for its basketball and golf programs. The boy’s basketball team, captained by Damon Bailey, who was Indiana’s all-time high school leading scorer, won a state title in 1990.

Bedford is known as the limestone capital of the world, and is surrounded by limestone quarries, many of which are dangerously used by the residents for swimming. A common name for the light gray Indiana limestone quarried in south central Indiana is “Bedford limestone”, or “Bedford Oolitic limestone”. Much of the limestone used in the construction of various Washington, D.C., monuments was quarried in the Bedford area.

Limestone from a nearby quarry, called the “Empire Quarry”, was used to build the Empire State Building in New York City.

The city was featured as the subject of an hour-long PBS special entitled Our Town: Bedford, first aired in May 2006. It was produced by PBS affiliate WTIU in Bloomington, Indiana.

Bedford was recognized by the State of Indiana in 2013 by being named a Stellar Community. The Stellar Communities program is under the direction of Lieutenant Government Sue Ellspermann and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the State Revolving Fund. Only two Indiana Communities are designated as such each year. The award brings $19 million in state, local and private funds to Bedford for planned improvements.

Bedford was also named the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Community of the Year.

In June, 2012, Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis and other city officials sign a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from the prospective sister city of Fenghua in Zhejiang province during their trade mission with Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman.

The memorandum agreement means the two communities will cooperate on the exchange of economy, trade, science, technology, tourism, education and personnel training in an effort to promote common prosperity and development. The original agreement will be reviewed after five years.

On Jan 7, 2016, a Chinese delegation from Fenghua arrived in Bedford. Gene McCracken, executive director for the Lawrence County Economic Growth Council, who is hosting the visit, said this is the third time the delegation has visited Lawrence County.

Bedfrod’s sister city Fenghua is a county-level city in the north of Zhejiang Province. The city and its administrative hinterlands has a population of over 480,000.

Fenghua is most famous for being the hometown of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek.

Fenghua was established as a county in the Tang dynasty, in the territory of Mingzhou. It’s name means “accepting reform” and adopted during imperial times.

Today, Fenghua is a center for light manufacturing and small-scale farming. It boasts a number of premier garment and textiles factories, including the Romon brand widely recognized in China. It is also home to the vast industrial facilities of Ningbo Bird, a leading Chinese mobile phone manufacturer. As the port city of Ningbo is further integrated into the burgeoning economic region of Shanghai, Fenghua will attract increased foreign investment and continue to grow.

A close sister relationship as Fenghua and Bedford has, would enhance the economic development and discover more opportunities for the two communities to work together.

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