Schultz, Macklin attempt to lure Chinese industry
Decatur Mayor John Schultz and Adams County Economic Development director Larry Macklin didn’t know what to expect when they traveled with a group of Hoosiers looking for foreign business investment from China.
One thing they learned quickly was that Chinese business investors were well versed in how to seek all the amenities they can for their United States counterparts.
For one day, Schultz and Macklin sat at a table at a trade show presenting the potential of investing business interests in Adams County and Northeast Indiana.
“We had an opportunity for one day in an open show; we sat at the table and represented Decatur and Adams County,” said Schultz. “They were interested in seeing what we had to offer. They wanted us to give them things, but that was not what we were there for.”
The seeds for the local representatives’ were sown when Schultz attended a meeting in Delphi. The speaker, who was not associated with any government entity, impressed the Decatur mayor so much that he invited Macklin to travel with him to Columbus, Ohio to meet the guest speaker and chat with him.
Schultz and Macklin learned through the office of Lieutenant Becky Skillman of a trip being planned to China to entice foreign business to move their establishments to Indiana.
“When we went to China we didn’t have any idea what to expect,” said Schultz at the Berne Rotary Club on Thursday. “It was a large delegation, 30 to 35 people and a couple of extra mayors. We had a 14 hour flight from Detroit to Shanghai.”
John Samson, of the Northeast Indiana partnership accompanied Schultz and Macklin on the trip. Schultz said that part of their pitch was the centricity of the local area in relation to such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Columbus. For two or three days, they sought to meet those from China who might be interested in bringing a business to local soil.
Schultz said that the Chinese welcome was warm with banners hanging in many places with the phrase, “Welcome Decatur, Indiana.”
Through visits to factories, banquets, and other public domains, the local men sought to establish relationships that might, among other things, foster the possibility with the foreign student exchange program.
“There’s a lot of money over there, but a lot of people don’t have a lot,” said Schultz.
A second motive in the trip was that of laying groundwork for sister city potential with Jiaojiang, China. Since that time, Jiaojiang has sent a delegation to Decatur.
“They have come here now trying to develop an exchange relationship with us,” observed Schultz. “I was very thankful to have them here.”
“It was a great trip, successful in all ways,” noted Macklin. “They treated us like royalty. I have some business contacts. There are opportunities for Decatur and opportunities for Adams County.
“This was more than business and trade opportunities. It was also about educational opportunities for exchanges,” continued Macklin. “They were prepared for us at every step that we took. We saw all of the better parts, at least.”
Macklin said that if areas of China are going to work with Northeast Indiana, this is the time to make it happen. The economic director believed that a round table discussion where everyone was open to dialogue had been especially beneficial.
“They are ready to move forward with a sister city agreement,”
Macklin said. “We will move cautiously. They appreciate a little opportunity outside of government to make things happen.”
Macklin said that he felt there had been enough learned to develop a more effective strategy in getting things to work between the nations.
“I felt there was a real eagerness in working together,” commented Macklin.
Macklin noted that those visiting southern Adams County were really amazed by the trade coming in from China, especially as it feeds the American dream.
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