As part of Denver Sister Cities International, Denver has now become a friendship city to Panama City, Panama. A friendship city is temporary as opposed to a sister city which is a more permanent agreement. The mayors of the two cities — Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock and José Isabel Blandón, mayor of Panama City — signed the agreement on June 28. The agreement ultimately strengthens ties between the two cities in terms of culture, business and tourism. This Friendship City agreement sets the stage for the launch of Copa Airline’s new nonstop air service from Denver to Panama that will begin in December of this year.

When asked about the agreement Blandón stated, “With the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, both parties express their desire and willingness to actively seek common ground across areas of mutual interest.” Both mayors see this agreement as an opportunity for the cities to share knowledge and grow their respective cities. Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock added, “New air service continues to drive economic activity and create new jobs in Denver, Copa’s new service to Panama City will further strengthen Denver as a global destination for commerce, trade and culture.” The agreement allows both cities a year to explore the benefits of the relationship before either dissolving the relationship or making it a permanent agreement and becoming sister cities. Panama is the fourth city on the list of Denver’s friendship cities, following Akureyri, Iceland, Karmiel, Israel and Ramat HaNegev, Israel. The relationship with Iceland has already shown benefits through a successful partnership between Winter Park and an Icelandic ski resort which allows ski pass holders to ski free at either resort.

Denver Sister Cities International aims to maintain relationships between the Denver and other cities worldwide. The goal is to enrich cities using these partnerships to ensure vibrant business, cultural, educational and governmental connections. The signed agreement with Panama will be added to the growing list of Denver’s other sister cities that already includes Nairobi, Kenya; Axum, Ethiopia; Brest, France; Chennai, India; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Karmiel, Israel; Kunming, China; Potenza, Italy; Takayama, Japan; and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It will certainly be interesting to watch how the agreement with Panama City will benefit Denver.