By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Mayor Kevin Smith is leaving Saturday on a 10-day trade mission to northern Italy in hopes of attracting more foreign companies to Anderson.
Smith will be joined by Interim Economic Development Director Greg Winkler and Chuck Staley, CEO of the Flagship Enterprise Center.
The trio will meet with executives from five manufacturing companies located near the city of Milan, Smith said.
Three of the five already have operations based in the United States and want to expand; and two are planning to build their first U.S. facilities in 2014. City officials will not name the companies.
"We want the expansions and those premiere locations to occur in Anderson," Winkler said, adding that officials "are very close to completing negotiations with one of the new companies. They have visited us twice in the past two months, and we believe that our work on the ground with them next week will help close the gap."
Smith has traveled to foreign countries selling Anderson to global companies three times since taking office in 2012.
He visited Italy and China a year ago, and in April traveled to Germany for the Hannover Messe industrial trade show. Several of next week's meetings are a direct result of contacts made during that trip.
"This is the way you make the trade trips, do the hard work, and negotiate with company leaders on their soil," Smith said. "They realize that we are willing to do what it takes to understand what drives their business and identify ways we both can prosper."
Including transportation, hotel, airfare and meals, the trip will cost approximately $9,000, which will be financed through the city's food and beverage tax fund, said city spokeswoman Alisa Cummings. The Flagship Enterprise Center will pay for Staley's travel.
In 2012, the city secured commitments from manufacturing companies expected to create an estimated 1,100 new jobs and invest more than $217 million here.
Those firms include Green Tire Reclamation, Echo Drive and major Honda plastic components supplier Greenville Technology Inc., which now occupies a new 150,000-square-foot facility at the Flagship Enterprise Center business park.
Earlier this year, Keihin North America — also also a Honda parts supplier — opened its corporate headquarters at the business park. And HyPro Filtration broke ground on its new 122,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Anderson.
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