Dr. Arnold Heller

arnoldheller@comcast.net, arnoldheller@arnoldheller.org


Proposal: Establish Sandy Springs Sister Cities Commission (SSSCC) and Program


Today’s connected world influences even smaller cities such as Sandy Springs to compete in the global economy through pursuit of international commerce and trade.

  • Global connections are beneficial for economic growth, cultural development, and group and individual opportunity.
  • An active sister cities program can offer many valuable benefits to a city,its people, business community, local schools, cultural groups, and athletic and religious organizations.

It is therefore urged that the City of Sandy Springs establish a Sandy Springs Sister Cities Commission (SSSCC) and Program.

Sister cities commissions are usually operated as an extension of the Mayor’s Office and often assisted by a Coordinator / Director for International Affairs.

  • Creation of a sister city program and committee begins with an official blessing by the City Council who issues a proclamation in support of a partnership also known as a “twinning”.
  • The people who traditionally make a sister city program successful are volunteers who are drawn to people-to-people relationships across cultures and relish direct involvement in meaningful and purposeful projects.

Five Step Development Plan

  1. Establish a Sandy Springs Sister Cities Commission (DSCC) for the purpose of economic and cultural development and international branding.
  1. Become affiliated with Sister Cities International (SCI) through the formation of a volunteer commission that includes a cross section of the city’s population make up and its leadership groups. It is recommended that the proposed commission be set up as a model public – private partnership that is a product of the City of Sandy Springs, the Sandy Springs Chamber of Commerce and business community, and local community organizations and groups. www.sister-cities.org
  1. Develop people-to-people friendships and linkages between the citizens of

Sandy Springs (and perhaps joined with Dunwoody) starting with the Israeli municipalities of Ra’anana and Yochneam. Ra’anana is currently a sister city of Atlanta but open to a broader participation in the Metro Atlanta region. Yochneam, a development town in the north of Israel, is a special project of the Atlanta Jewish Federation of Georgia. Federation sponsors specialized programs in Yochneam designed to:

      • Spur economic development
      • Raise living standards
      • Provide families in trouble with needed support services
      • Improve the environment.
  1. Partnership or twinning process is based on:
      • Forming people-to-people partnerships
      • Expedited through mutual hosting of official delegations
      • Each signs proclamations in respective cities.

It is suggested that:

  • Twinning mission to Israel may serve as a business mission to foster tradebetween Sandy Springs and proposed Israeli sister cities to develop joint programs and engage in joint projects with,
  • One twinning a year take place for the next five years with the aim of building a strong and geographically diverse program,
  • Sandy Springs Commission targets potential sister cities that are in the interest of the citizens to develop joint programs and engage in joint projects with,
  • Possible follow up twinning(s) might include cities in China, Germany, Brazil, India, or with dynamic cities that approach us, or cities that
    Sandy Springs citizens are excited about twinning with.
  1. International branding:
    • Sandy Springs, with a population of approximately 90,000, is an affluent and well educated city.
    • If linked with Dunwoody, the population grows to 140,000 people with average household incomes of $120,000+.
    • Total commercial office space and number of corporate headquarters equals Buckhead and downtown Atlanta and exceeds Charlotte or Birmingham.

Sandy Springs / Dunwoody is a formidable economic corridor for trade and investment: Possible Slogan: ‘Sandy Springs / Dunwoody – The other economic gateway to Metro Atlanta, Georgia, and the Southeastern U.S.”

Recommended Process for Start Up Phase:

  • Sister cities programs are traditionally an extension of the Mayor’s Office
  • Blessed and sanctioned by the City Council,
  • Committees are chaired by volunteers with members assuming responsibilities / roles that sustain and grow it
  • Commissions are usually staffed by volunteers but cities that wish to professionalize their program may pay staff to effectively administer it.
  • Volunteers assume a great deal of work and quite often incur significant out of pocket expenses.

Arnold Heller’s background information / qualifications for a leadership position:

  • Member of the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission (ASCC) for twenty years and currently serving as the Vice Chair.
  • Chair of the Atlanta – Rio de Janeiro Sister City Committee 1995 – 1998
  • 1999 – Established the Atlanta – Ra’anana (Israel) Sister City Committee officially twinned on July 22, 2001 as Atlanta’s 17th sister city and served as Chair for the past 14 years.
  • Received the Sister Cities International Award for Youth Leadership in 1997 for developing joint global business education programs and student exchanges to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago and Newcastle, England
    I am a retired high school teacher of social studies and international entrepreneurship education. My vita and supporting documents are available online at www.arnoldheller.org.

Oct. 22 – 31, 2011: Atlanta Sister Cities Commission (ASCC) hosted high school delegations from six of its eighteen sister cities. The theme of this sixth super-exchange in Atlanta educational history was Training the Next Generation of Sister Cities Leaders”.

  • Developed the exchange’s educational curriculum and training program
  • Presentation teaches Sister Cities International’s (SCI) history, aims, purpose, and global expansion into the world’s largest international organization.
  • Power point presentation focuses on SCI’s networking concepts, related programs, possible projects, youth outreach efforts, etc.
  • Describes workings of the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission as an award-winning model, and suggested joint programs and projects to engage in.

ASCC bylaws require the Commission to submit an annual report to the Atlanta City Council that showcases all of the eighteen committee’s activities and projects that they were involved in during the past year.

(www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=642; see list of Annual Reports 2001 – 2013 that describe the spectrum of activities that prospective sister cities committees may be pursuing.

An example of a recent Atlanta – Ra’anana Sister City Committee (ARSCC) activity / project took place this past June 9, 2012. Mr. Tamir Akta, Israel’s greatest trumpet player, won a world trumpet competition held at Columbus State University a few days earlier. My committee presented Mr. Akta in concert at the home of noted Roswell architect Mr. Ari Kohn, a former Israeli. It was a most special event that all in attendance will remember for many years. www.arnoldheller.org/2012 Ra’anana Annual Report.

The committee also worked with Dr. Jozette Kaufmann and Dr. Jonathan Darcy of the Emory University Graduate School of Business Administration to arrange for about twenty-five of its students to visit Ra’anana at the end of April 2013. The group was to experience:

  • Israel’s largest hi-tech company (Amdocs),
  • Beit Issie Shapiro, a world class nonprofit that provides innovative special education applications and therapies ,
  • Cooperative agricultural enterprise called a moshav that buys seeds and tractors from Georgia and sells us food,
  • Delegation was also to meet over lunch with the Ra’anana Mayor

Ra’anana, a city of 80,000 people and located fifteen miles north of Tel Aviv, is often referred to as the Sandy Springs or Dunwoody of Israel because of similarities such as:

  • Citizen’s high education and income levels
  • Excellent schools with specialized missions designed to nurture talent and giftedness
  • Beautiful homes, parks, gardens and pedestrian areas
  • Widely considered to be Israel’s most livable city – comfortable place to live, work, play and raise a family.

Yochneam is an attractive, up and coming city in the north of Israel and a special project of the Atlanta Jewish Federation. Both cities can serve as gateways to the rest of Israel.

I have lived in Dunwoody / Sandy Springs corridor for thirty-five years, love the quality of life, am proud of the incorporation efforts and successful municipal organizations and operations that have taken place, and believe that the city(s) should start taking steps towards becoming connected to the larger world. I feel that Sandy Springs has much to offer the larger world and it would be my privilege, honor, and joy to help make that happen.