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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mission to China, Japan begins for city leaders

Monday, September 19, 2011

Maybe it wasn't exactly planes, trains and automobiles, but non-stop travel from Greencastle, Ind., to Shanghai, China, is certainly a long and winding road.

Finding that out firsthand were Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray and Bill Dory, director of the Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center, who started that journey Saturday morning and are now communicating from halfway around the world.

"We knew it would be a long day, and it was," Mayor Murray told the Banner Graphic via Blackberry. "Bill Dory and I left Greencastle at 9 a.m. Saturday, and found ourselves in our hotel rooms finally at 11:30 on Sunday night."

While this is Mayor Murray's maiden voyage to the Far East, it is the fifth such trade mission trip for Dory. They are two of 18 representatives of Hoosier communities and government on the trade mission.

"I've never had 14 straight hours on a plane before," the mayor continued, "and as luck didn't have it, we both ended up with a middle seat on a packed flight of some 400. A three-hour bus ride from Shanghai followed to reach our destination in Hangzhou."

The first two days of the trip are considered an agriculture and community development mission to China as part of the visit organized by the state and the office of Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.

Mayor Murray is already impressed by what she has seen since landing in China.

"First impressions," she said, are of "a great highway system, much truck and construction traffic out on a Sunday night, shops and stores still open and full buses running.

"Public restrooms are a unique experience," she added. "But I've seen little roadside trash, and all we have met thus far are very welcoming."

Dory also shared his thoughts on being able to visit China on this trade mission, equating interest in that country with the initial focus on Japan 25 years ago.

"China is a country that has a growing interest in investing in the United States," Dory said. "Several Indiana communities have already landed China-based companies. Some experts are predicting a wave of Chinese investment in the United States similar to the wave of Japanese investment in the 1980s."

The China mission will focus on increasing exports of Indiana agricultural products, attracting new agricultural investment into Indiana and developing closer cultural ties between the rural communities of Indiana and its sister state, the Zhejiang province.

Four separate groups will travel to smaller communities and potential sister-cities within the Zhejiang Province. Delegations will meet with local officials to discuss local economies and business environment. They will also tour schools and learn about the culture of smaller communities in China.

Murray and Dory were to begin a series of meetings at 8 a.m. Monday, including a 15-minute presentation on Greencastle and Putnam County at the Zhejiang Foreign Affairs Department. The mayor will then meet with community officials from Zhejiang City before participating in a dinner hosted by Zhejiang.

Dory offered some local perspective on the importance of the mission, participation in which has been funded through the Industrial Development Fund administered by the Greencastle Citizens Advisory Committee for Industrial Development.

"As a community," Dory said, "it is an honor to be invited to participate in a state trade mission by Lt. Gov. Skillman. Working with the state opens some doors that might not be available to us if we were working alone.

"During the mission, the state will be hosting investment receptions in China, Tokyo, Ota City and Nagoya. These receptions provide an opportunity to introduce Greencastle and Putnam County to companies that may be considering investment in the United States."

Mayor Murray and Dory both noted that they are excited to have the opportunity to visit the corporate headquarters of the two Greencastle Japanese-based companies -- Heartland Automotive and Chiyoda USA.

"Both of these companies have expanded and continue to make investments here in Greencastle," Dory pointed out.

In addition, the mission group will be participating in the Midwest-US Japan Association Conference, which also provides an opportunity to meet Japanese business leaders.

Lt. Gov. Skillman will not participate in the China portion of the trade mission but has assigned the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to lead the Agriculture, Trade and Community Development Mission to China. The majority of the delegation will then join Skillman in Japan beginning Wednesday evening. The Japanese segment of the visit is being termed the 2011 Japan Jobs, Investment and Trade Mission.

According to Lt. Gov. Skillman, objectives for the China Trade Mission include:

-- Continuing to build relationships between Indiana and the Zhejiang Provincial Government.

-- Establishing plans for next year's 25th anniversary commemoration of Indiana's sister-state relationship with Zhejiang.

-- Helping develop sister-city relationships for Indiana communities.

-- Increasing Indiana's agricultural exports to China.

-- Sharing information on Indiana and attracting agricultural investment to the state.

-- Developing deep cultural partnerships between Indiana and Zhejiang in the form of global education initiatives and community-to-community exchanges.

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Who's dime is paying for this?

-- Posted by Hazel on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 6:39 AM

I think we all know the answer to that question. I find it interesting that Skillman skips the China portion and goes straight to Japan to wait for the delegation to join her?

-- Posted by gunner on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 2:58 PM

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