ANDERSON, Ind. — Mayor Kevin Smith is used to unpacking his suitcase.
Smith is in his second year of his four-year term as mayor of the city, but when business opportunities present themselves, he is quick to respond – even if that means Smith has to travel around the world to get there.
This week Smith had 13 business meetings in two days while visiting with companies in Japan. He was accompanied by Greg Winkler, economic development director for Anderson, and Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development.
The delegation traveled first to California to meet with potential businesses and then to Tokyo and Nagoya, where they meet with officials at Hitachi Transport, the parent company of Carter Express, and Moriroku Technology, the parent company of GTI. Both companies have locations at the Flagship Enterprise Center, 2701 Enterprise Drive.
“The point of visiting with the companies is to not to only establish a rapport, but to also evaluate if they would make a good fit for our community,” Smith said. “We want to make sure it is a good marriage and not a failure. It would not do anyone any good in the long run if it did not work out.”
Smith said discussions with the companies included utilities, availability of natural resources, highways and the city’s proximity Indianapolis and Chicago. He said international companies also want to know if they can own land in the city. Smith said some countries do not allow foreign businesses to own property.
“These were global companies with a great deal of wherewithal,” he said.
Smith said the businesses are varied in their potential and included companies looking to expand, relocate or operate in the city.
“Our goal is not to put all our eggs in one basket,” he said. "Manufacturing is what we know so well in Anderson and Indiana, but I don't want to close the door on other things like engineering, which is also an important part of our past."
He said these trips also enable the city to improve its visibility as a place to do business.
“If we don’t carry that message," he said, "I don’t believe anyone else will.”
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