A Tyler businessman is helping the city forge a new partnership with a fast changing Central Asian nation.

John Nix, a former City Council member and candidate for mayor, spent the day Tuesday introducing the ambassador of Uzbekistan to community, business and education leaders.

Ambassador Javlon Vakhabov met Nix in Washington, D.C., and after having dinner together, invited Nix to visit the country. Now Nix is returning the favor.

“We have developed a relationship with the ambassador over the last three or four months, and as part of that gone on a trip and got to experience what they’re doing from a business perspective and what they’re doing for their people,” Nix said.

Since 2016, Uzbekistan has seen monumental changes in governance and culture, leading to a booming economy and new opportunities for the country of 32 million people.

Ambassador Vakhabov said his visits to the United States are part of an outreach effort to build partnerships in areas such as oil and gas, banking and finance and education.

“I’m still exploring America, and I’ve come to the firm conclusion that D.C. does not reflect the entire country,” he said.

Vakhabov said he would like to create a Sister City partnership between the City of Tyler and the City of Namangan, which is the capital of one of Uzbekistan’s provinces.

Nix said the country is taking a very “Texas approach” to its governance reforms and approach to free enterprise.

Vakhabov said the pillars of reform center on a solid commitment to providing good governance to its citizens through the strengthening of social policies and focus on education and health care.

Vakhabov also planned to speak to students and staff at the University of Texas at Tyler about the country’s transition from socialism to capitalism and the religious freedom reforms that have taken place.

As part of his trip to Texas, he also is inviting business and education leaders to visit the country and take part in a U.S.-Uzbekistan business forum on Oct. 21 and 22.