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Health care workers in the Lansing region and other areas in the state of Michigan with the greatest need will have better protection against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) thanks to a critical sister city relationship fostered by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) in collaboration with a local attorney, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and Hohhot Municipal Government in Inner Mongolia, China. 

With a gesture of kindness and solidarity from across the globe, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government in China, a government partner with LEAP in building the sister city relationship, shipped 20,000 medical-grade protective face masks to LEAP for distribution to support health care workers and others operating in high-risk COVID-19 environments across the Lansing area and within the state of Michigan. At this time, this donation is the most significant of its kind from a Chinese government entity to the state of Michigan.

“The city of Lansing is proud to be an international city. Working with our LEAP partners, we have recently developed a relationship with Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, China. Hohhot saw that we have a need for masks to protect our health care workers and others on the front lines, and they reached out to help. This kind gesture will have a positive impact on protecting our community and I am appreciative for this donation of necessary personal protection equipment from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

As the COVID-19 crisis has infiltrated communities across the nation, health care workers and other critical care givers have and continue to be disproportionately exposed to the contagion, and are in need of adequate and effective personal protection equipment (PPE). Over the past months, manufacturing and health care industries have mobilized across the nation, state and Lansing region to respond to this need. Though supplies are increasing, the cost of quality, medical-grade face masks remains at a premium and procurement is still a challenge given global supply shortages. The mask donation from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government, valued at over  US$100,000 is especially significant when considering this reality. 

The donated masks will provide much needed help in the Lansing region, as well as in an area of the state being hardest hit by the crisis. Of the 20,000 masks donated, 10,000 will be distributed in the Lansing region to a number of dental offices, mental health facilities and retirement homes, and 10,000 will be similarly allocated across the state based on guidance from the Michigan Community Service Commission and State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC).

When He Xian, a local associate attorney at Butzel Long, learned of Inner Mongolia’s desire to support the PPE crisis unfolding in Lansing and Michigan, he turned to LEAP as the organization best positioned to facilitate the donation, saying “It is not easy to get this done during this difficult time, which shows the true friendship between the regions. I believe many collaboration opportunities await us in near future.” Xian has been a critical partner in forging the sister city relationship with Hohhot and in navigating the complexities of international economic development relationships.

LEAP coordinated and facilitated the donation of the 20,000 masks and covered the roughly $350 in import fees associated with accepting the donation when it arrived in the U.S. Another key partner in receiving and distributing the mask donation was LEAP member Dean Transportation. Previously, Dean received an emergency declaration from the Federal Carrier Safety Administration to transport medical materials and was able and willing to provide the vehicles and staff needed to pick up the donation shipment, sort and then distribute the masks to the Lansing and Michigan PPE warehouses. The Capital Region International Airport also lended its logistics expertise in support of the effort.

“LEAP is grateful for this donation of critical PPE from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. “What a great example of what a sister city relationship is intneded to achieve—mutual economic benefit—and why LEAP has invested in and will continue to invest in such relationships around the world.”

About LEAP
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all–working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.