For advice on improving their business community, a group of Zimbabwean officials will look a world away in Towson in August.
A group of eight town officials from Zimbabwe will travel to the Baltimore area on Aug. 15 as part of a State Department-sponsored visitors program. The officials are in the U.S. to study how American towns create business and development strategies that help spark job growth. Their itinerary includes a stop at the Towson Chamber of Commerce. The visitors are:
- Femias Foroma Joshua Chakabuda, mayor, City of Masvingo
- Nimrod Willard Chiminya, president, Zimbabwe Local Government Association (ZILGA)
- Emmanuel Chiroto, Deputy Mayor, Harare City CouncilTendai Mahachi, chief executive officer/town clerk, City of Harare
- Elizabeth Mbwana, town clerk, Municipality of Redcliff, Zimbabwe
- Thaba Patrick Moyo, mayor, Bulawayo City Council
- Rodgers Mozhentiy, co-secretary-general, Zimbabwe Local Government Association
- Nothando Msimanga, chairperson, Plumtree Town Council
The visit, part of the International Visitors Leadership Program, is run locally by the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore. It's aimed at building understanding and discussing best practices between American and foreign officials.
The Zimbabwean group will be in the country for three weeks, but will be in Maryland for just one day, according to trade center officials. Their visit also includes a stop at the Baltimore County departments of planning and business and economic development.
"We never get anything like this in our community, and it's really neat that they're trying to learn how to start a chamber, over there and they come to our chamber," said Nancy Hafford, the chamber's executive director.
Hafford said she plans to invite several chamber board members and community leaders.
"They don't have chambers of commerce over there and I think we want to talk about how important it is to work with the residential community to bring them into the business community," she said. That includes the chamber's community initiatives, like Feet on the Street and the weekly farmers market.
The visit was originally scheduled for January, but was canceled at the last minute due to visa troubles.
"I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that everything goes through," Hafford said.