Home Local Politics Loudoun County Chair Phyllis Randall’s Report, Including “Next Steps,” on Leading a...

Loudoun County Chair Phyllis Randall’s Report, Including “Next Steps,” on Leading a “delegation to Ghana to sign a new sister county MOU”

"One final note: The travel costs for both myself and my COS were covered by the Loudoun Economic Development Authority, meaning that no local taxpayer funding was used for our trip."

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See below for Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall (D)’s response to the right-wing-propaganda Sinclair “News” (WJLA TV7) story about her trip to Ghana. As David Broder of SEIU puts it:

“’Journalist’ Nick Minock has tweeted 14 stories about Loudoun Chair Phyllis Randall’s trip to Ghana in the past 2 days but (as far as I can tell) was silent about Governor Youngkin’s trip to Taiwan, even though it cost three times as much. Hmmm… what could be the difference?”

Minock, of course, is a former Trump administration official and former staffer for right-wing-Republican Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL). ‘Nuff said. With that, here’s Chair Randall’s response:

Loudoun, (very long post)

Last week I led a delegation to Ghana to sign a new sister county MOU. The goals of most sister county relationships are mutually beneficial economic, cultural and educational exchanges. Sometimes it can take years to see those benefits; other times they are almost immediate. We believe the economic benefits of our new sister county in Tema, Ghana will prove to be the latter.

THE SIGNING AND MEETINGS
We signed the Sister County agreement with Tema, Ghana on our first full day. After that, the week was full of meetings, visits to schools, a business reception with the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Ghana, a television appearance and a meeting with the President of Ghana. We also participated in a community service afternoon at the Orthopedic Training Center of Ghana. That visit was both inspirational and very emotional. I want to thank Loudoun resident Koby Okum and the Ghana Impact Project for assisting in setting up our visit to the OTC. (Link and pictures below).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Buddy Rizer and the Department of Economic Development had multiple meetings planned before we left Virginia. Those meetings were very successful. Although, at this time, the MOU does not allow me to disclose the names of the potential companies, I can say they are a combination of tech, tourism, agricultural and manufacturing. One of the companies will be visiting Loudoun as early as July.
I will share more information as I am able and the various NDAs allow.

CHOCOLATE:
As many know, it is my goal to diversify our economy and grow small manufacturing in Loudoun. Towards that end, I wanted to explore the possibility of small chocolate manufacturing in Loudoun. (Ghana produces some of the highest quality and quantity of cocoa beans in the world).

I was encouraged to find establishing small chocolate 🍫 manufacturing is quite possible depending on a number of different factors.
1. At what point in the “bean to bar” process are beans, or roasted nibs shipped to Loudoun.
2. Finding a location in an industrial zoned area of Loudoun. (The required land acreage is much smaller than I anticipated it would be.)
3. Finding an investor or investors who are interested.

The entire “bean to bar process” is much less complicated and requires less equipment than I expected. A small manufacturing operation is definitely possible. We shall see and I will keep you informed.

(Small Note: Although I don’t eat chocolate too often, I did think the chocolate in Ghana had a different taste, less sweet, and smoother)

EDUCATION:
Primary school is 1st-5th grades.
Middle school is 6th and 7th grades
8/9 school is… 8th and 9th grade. 🤷🏾‍♀️
Secondary school is 10th-12th grades.

•At all public schools the students wear uniforms. The uniforms identify the school.
•All public schools are enclosed within a wall and play areas are in a courtyard in the middle of the school compound.
•The students are not allowed to bring their phones to school. If students bring them to school, they are confiscated and left in the main office.
• They report having the ability to address students with mental health concerns, but said it’s very unusual to have a student display or report mental health issues.
• They report zero teen suicides saying, “suicide is not Ghanaian.”
• Public schools are public schools even if they are religious based schools. So, a parent can send their students to a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. public school. Teachers will teach and pray with the students in that faith.
• The students are extremely disciplined and very proud of their schools. The opportunity to gain an education is highly prized.
• Chemu High School in Tema has an almost 100% on time graduation rate and the school has received multiple awards.
• The equipment and computers are very outdated. The library is sparse and the students may not take home books. As you can see in the pictures, the building itself could certainly be updated or replaced.

We are not yet sure what the education partnership with Ghana will include. I will connect LCPS with the Superintendent in Tema, Ghana. Hopefully a committee of students, parents and educators can be established to further explore this relationship possibilities. Tema, will also set up a committee.

CULTURE:
With just under a week in Ghana, we really didn’t have time to discuss cultural exchanges. In fact, sadly we were too busy to even visit cultural sites, museums, music venues etc.

NEXT STEPS:
1. As I said, there is already a company that will be visiting Loudoun as early as July.
2. As more deals are signed and more companies come on line, I will work with the Loudoun Department of Economic Development to keep you updated.
3. I will pass the Education issue to LCPS, but will work with private companies and businesses to get computers donated to Chemu High School as their computers are very outdated.
4. I will remain in contact with my counterpart in Tema.
5. I will work with the DED and others to further explore bringing a small chocolate manufacturing operation to Loudoun.

One final note: The travel costs for both myself and my COS were covered by the Loudoun Economic Development Authority, meaning that no local taxpayer funding was used for our trip.

I think that’s everything. And, as always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your County Chair.

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