Boston-Belfast sister cities relationship raised to a new level
Hats off to the Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh and Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson who brought the sister city agreement between their two cities to a new level this week with the announcement in Boston of the Belpot.
Featuring four crack college ice hockey teams playing in Belfast in late November, this tournament will represent the first time the NCAA — ice hockey’s governing body — has held competitive games outside of the US.
“This is a first of its kind event which represents a relationship between our cities that has been growing for some time,” said Mayor Walsh.
“We’re going to take our cities relationships to the next level. We’re going to create exchange for students and educators and business people, leading with new ideas and new growth.”
With plans to run the BelPot on an annual basis, this sporting alliance means a multi-million pound windfall for Belfast, huge exposure across the States to millions of ice hockey-mad fans and a shot-in-the-arm for the city’s hospitality industry.
It also gives Belfast an opportunity to put on its game-face — not only by opening the doors of the Odyssey Arena to allow fans of all ages to enjoy this sporting showcase for free but also by allowing us to show the world the very best of Belfast. There is no better way to do that than with the Aisling Awards, the city’s premier community awards event, which will take place in Titanic Belfast on Friday 28 November during the BelPot — and you can be sure that a special VIP guest from Boston will be on the invite list.
Katie Atkinson, co-founder Datanap.io and John McDonnell, founder BitNet
Meanwhile, Belfast will roll out the red carpet in style for more international visitors during the BelTech — the city’s leading technology conference, curated by local software giants Kainos. I’m pleased to report that among our very special guests will be four mayors: Mayor Hedda Foss Five of Skien, Norway, Mayor Fintán Warfield of South Dublin County Council, Mayor Rodney Elliott of Lowell, Massachusetts, and (invited and hopefully to confirm this week), the Green first citizen of Bristol, Mayor George Ferguson. That should help cement Belfast’s reputation as a global crossroads for tech-savvy city leaders but we’re also honing our reputation as a hotbed of innovation by inviting a series of start-up titans. They include including serial entrepreneur John McDonnell of Bitnet (the world digital commerce platform with its hq in Belfast) and Katie Atkinson of Silicon Valley upstart Datasnap.io who will fly in from San Francisco to give the keynote. BelTech runs from 29 April-1 May and will be another string in Belfast’s bow as we move confidently into the future.
For Belfast really is a city on the rise. Indeed, that’s the theme of a Business Breakfast I will address this Thursday morning in the Merchant Hotel. If you want to hear my thoughts on how political leaders can be ambassadors for business and take part in a discussion with five of our top business thinkers, you can buy a ticket for the breakfast here.