Sandy Springs has built a relationship with the city of Taicang as a friendship city. DeJulio and Mayor Eva Galambos visited Taicang in 2009. Because of this relationship, he was invited in January to speak at the forum.
The forum took place Feb. 5 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
DeJulio spoke to hundreds of Chinese government administrators about the city’s experience with development.
“These are more rural areas where they’re looking for more urbanization and development,” he said.
DeJulio was in China for a week, where he visited the Great Wall of China, took the bullet train to Shanghai and visited with peers in Taicang.
The councilman said Taicang is to Shanghai what Sandy Springs is to Atlanta. However, Taicang has a population of about 700,000 people and is about an hour-long drive from Shanghai.
DeJulio said he stressed the importance of clean development at the forum.
“One of the things about Beijing is that it’s really polluted,” he said. “A lot of the people in the streets wear surgical masks. I mentioned that in Sandy Springs, we don’t allow industry that would pollute, and we don’t allow factories.”
Chinese professionals are just starting to realize the impact and need for an educated workforce, according to DeJulio.
“I used the example that we have technical schools that give students the opportunity to work at medical facilities in Sandy Springs,” he said.
DeJulio said some of the smaller cities in the country were starting to urbanize with restaurants opening up, so he encouraged them to look at technical schools that would train the workforce with culinary and restaurant management programs.
“They were very pleased with the outcome and invited me to come back next year,” he said.