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BREMEN, Germany -- Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and the team that accompanied him to Germany for the world's largest technology fair in Hanover last week took today to tour historic Delmenhorst and Bremen.
"Let me get this straight, you have a meat plant and a doughnut plant, and the Becks brewery up the road in Bremen," quipped Mark Schroeder, associate director of admissions for the University of Toledo.
The first stop today was the Nordwolle in Delmenhorst, a historic textile manufacturing complex that has been transformed into a mixed commercial, educational, and residential development on the north side of the city.
"This could be the steam plant right here," said Mayor Bell. "All these buildings were converted into reuse."
Much of the meandering today around Delmenhorst and Bremen invoked thoughts of how Toledo could be do things differently, including the reuse of old buildings like the former Toledo Edison steam plant downtown.
A museum inside one building on the complex shows the transformation from the past to today. Inside are examples of the city's past cork manufacturing and the linoleum industry, which is still a major employer in the city of 77,000 people.
Along the streets of Delmenhorst, on the way to a 13th century church, St. Laurentius, the Toledo group passed brick homes, farmhouses, and barns built in the 1800s, nestled close together -- many still with thatch roofs.
The group later in the day spent several hours in Bremen.
The Toledo group, which includes Paul Zito, vice president for international development of the Regional Growth Partnership in Toledo, Deputy Mayor Paul Syring, Finance Director Patrick McLean, and city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei, will give a presentation about Toledo on Monday in the Delmenhorst city hall.
Mr. Bell's trip to the city included attending the Krammermarkt on Saturday, a traditional German festival to mark the start of spring. It began with a parade and tapping a keg of beer — Becks, which is the local brew of nearby Bremen.
After a parade and the beer, the two mayors strolled through the festival, sampling local desserts and then, a large bratwurst.
“All of this makes a difference and all of this is important,” said Mr. Bell, who has made international relations and foreign direct investment a keystone of his nearly 3½ years in office.
“We are moving as good, if not better, than other cities our size,” Mr. Bell said. “What I am done doing is the dance [with critics]. If it happens, it happens, but at least we know we didn’t stay at home and sit on our hands.”
Mayor Patrick de La Lanne, who hosted the Toledo delegation for dinner Saturday night, said he was moved by Toledoans when he visited last year.
“I think it’s most important that cities from Germany and America have a close relationship and we Germans should be extremely grateful, even to America, particularly in these days when there is trouble with Northern Korea,” Mr. de La Lanne said. “We should also always be grateful as Germans for what the Americans have done, particularly after ’45.”
Mayor de La Lanne said Germans should remember the aid that America offered after World War II and the reunification of the east and west at the end of the Cold War.
Delmenhorst and Toledo became sister cities in 2002, and both mayors signed an updated pledge last year when Mr. Bell hosted Mr. de La Lanne in Toledo. The German city of about 77,000 is one of Toledo’s 10 sister cities, which are scattered across South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
During dinner Saturday night, Mr. Bell gave Mayor de La Lanne and his wife, Irene de La Lanne, a Mud Hens hat and two shirts that read, “You will do better in Toledo.”