ANDERSON — There is normally no way of immediately knowing if a trip to a foreign country to lure investors is successful, but the recent trip by city officials to Italy did provide some opportunities.
Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr., Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department and Rob Sparks, director of the Corporation for Economic Development returned two weeks ago from the trip.
As a result, Broderick said further discussions with three companies were opened; two of the companies plan to visit Anderson this summer.
Next up is a visit to Japan. Broderick and Winkler are leave for a six-day trip on Saturday and will meet Sparks there, who has a previous meeting with potential investors in China.
Both trips are being paid for by the city’s share of food and beverage tax revenues.
Broderick said the trip to Japan will allow meetings with companies that already have a presence in Anderson such as NTN Driveshaft, NTK Precision Axle and GTI.
“There will be discussions about future expansion of NTN,” he said, “and the potential incentive package we might be able to put together.”
The officials will also be meeting with an association that provides automotive component parts to Toyota and Chrysler.
“We want to show them that we’re a welcoming community and can help them with permitting,” Broderick said.
Like in the U.S., companies in Japan are having a problem securing a work force, Broderick said.
“They want people who can pass a drug test, come to work on time and be trainable,” he said. “Our residents have the work ethic of working in manufacturing.”
The trip to Italy cost an estimated $20,000, Broderick said.
“It was a productive trip,” the mayor said on Wednesday. “We met with a lot of different companies and trade associations in northern Italy. Many of those companies are interested in developing a presence in the United States and global markets.
“We talked to them about the potential of new factories and existing facilities that might meet their needs,” he said.
Winkler also described the trip as productive and city officials met trade associations that represent 1,000 companies.
“The three companies interested in a possible Anderson location are all manufacturing companies,” he said. “This is the first step toward bringing them to Anderson in the future.”
Broderick said the Anderson representatives explained the manufacturing history of the city and the fact that several Italian companies have invested in the area within the past few years.
He said there is a discomfort level for foreign companies looking to open facilities in America, but the fact that Anderson worked with Italian companies in the past helped attract interest.
“We were able to show them that it’s easy to do business in Anderson and we can help them clear the hurdles,” Broderick said. “There is no question in my mind that having Italian companies already located in Anderson helped with the dealings with the new companies.”
The city has retained a representative in Italy to be the lead person for Anderson for future possible relationships and the relationships already established.
Broderick said city officials spent eight hours at the Sirmax plant in Italy, and there were discussions about expanding the Anderson operations that opened last year.
“They’re excited about their future operations in Anderson,” he said. “They want to have a true presence in the Americas.”