Pasco looks at adopting a ‘sister city.’ Here’s what the deal could do for the Tri-Cities

Delegates from Colima, Mexico visit Pasco

Fiesta Foods' Ana Ruiz talks about the arrival of delegates visiting from Colima, Mexico.
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Fiesta Foods' Ana Ruiz talks about the arrival of delegates visiting from Colima, Mexico.

What started as a woman’s dream to bring her old and new homeland closer could reap economic rewards for Pasco.

This week, a pair of delegates from the Mexican State of Colima are touring Pasco as part of the first steps toward a forming a sister city agreement.

Valeria Perez Manzo, the secretary of social development, and C. Walter Alejandro Oldenbourg Ochoa, the secretary of economic promotion, are spending the week talking to Pasco’s leaders in medicine, business and education as they consider how they can help Pasco grow.

More than two-thirds of the Mexican’s state’s $6 billion economy is driven by its port in Manzanillo, but it also does a healthy business in seafood and mining. The port is one of the most important in the country and in the region, serving as a logistical hub for trade.

“Colima has a lot to offer,” Oldenbourg Ochoa said.

Jim Davis, Tri-City Community Health’s CEO, sees the possibility of health and economic improvements for the people served by the clinic. With a large percentage of Pasco’s population coming from Colima, he can see the possibility of sending his doctors to visit the area.

Health and economic benefits explored

“It would help our providers with a better understanding of where our patients come from,” he said. “What have they had to contend with, so that any suggestions, any offerings, any support that might be coming from our providers is more informed.”

Along with the chance to increase understanding about the people of the city, the Colima representatives offered to share their experiences about reaching people at risk and in poverty.

Fiesta Food’s Ana Ruiz, center, introduces Blanca Alcaraz, left, to Walter Alejandro Oldenbourg Ochoa, the secretary of economic promotion for Colima, Mexico, inside of Fiesta Foods in Pasco on Wednesday. Alcaraz and Ruiz are both from Colima. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

The two secretaries made a stop Wednesday to meet with the City Council and make the next step in formalizing the agreement.

This week’s trip was the result of the effort from Ana Ruiz, who spent the past 20 years living in Pasco but never abandoned her roots in the Mexican state.

Sister city talks started last year

She began talking with city officials about the possibility of joining the sister city program last year, saying the time was right for people to be receptive.

And for Pasco officials, this gives them a chance to serve a population they don’t always reach, said Michael Morales, the city’s deputy director for the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The next step, he said, is to send a full delegation to the Mexican state so they can learn more about what it is like there.

The benefits for the people of Pasco can come in new business agreements and education exchanges.

But the first fruits of the efforts are expected to come soon, he said. The secretaries planned to send a performer to the city’s Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.