ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, Congresswoman Susan Wild, and other local leaders are on their way to a region that has strong influence in the Lehigh Valley: Puerto Rico.

«Over 50 years we’re grown to be a 55% Latino community,» Mayor Tuerk said. «The largest portion of that population is Puerto Rican residents.»

He’s paying for his trip out of his own pocket: «To me, to build a relationship it’s best to go see it yourself, talk to people in Puerto Rico, to understand how their culture influences our culture.»

Both Tuerk and the congresswoman are meeting with government, business, and community leaders.

In a statement to 69 News, Wild said, in part, «The more than 77,000 Puerto Ricans who call the Greater Lehigh Valley home have shaped our region into the place it is today: from our culture and history to our dynamic business community and cutting-edge technological innovation, and so much more.»

«I’ll be on a panel there talking to mayors from across Puerto Rico, and I’ll be on a panel with the Governor, Mr. Pierluisi,» Tuerk said.

He thinks getting a better understanding of the people there produces better policy and gives an opportunity for our politicians to collaborate on new solutions.

«I think this is just a huge opportunity for us to just learn from each other on how we govern, how we manage our cities,» Tuerk said.