By LOU WILIN
Although the purchase of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. by Apollo Tyres did not materialize, Findlay’s business leaders are hoping to lure other Indian companies.
Indian businesses were courted last month in a weeklong visit by Findlay-Hancock County Alliance Economic Development Director Anthony Iriti, Assistant Director Tim Mayle and University of Findlay President Katherine Fell.
India shows much potential to invest in the United States, Iriti said. More to the point, Findlay could be on its radar. Indian companies view North America as a wide-open market and Findlay is in the center of it all, he said.
“We’re within 600 miles, or one day’s drive, of 60 percent of the North American population,” Iriti said.
So Hancock County could draw India’s automotive companies, and warehouses for its large generic drug manufacturing industry, he said. Indian drug makers need a more sophisticated distribution system, he said. Hancock County’s central location on Interstate 75 would help.
Commerce with India could be a two-way street. Hancock County companies also would like to export to India, Iriti said.
Japan is Findlay’s biggest foreign trade partner. Ten or so trips by local leaders to Japan over a quarter-century have paid off. More than 5,000 people are employed by 14 Japanese companies in northwestern Ohio, and most are in Findlay. The ties with Japan will continue. But Iriti and other local leaders see India as a means to bolster foreign trade.
“Our international efforts are going to be two fold. One will always be Japanese and continue to look for increased foreign direct investment from Japanese companies. That’s still always going to be our strong suit,” he said. “But any additional international work that we would do would be centered in India.”
Perhaps Findlay’s biggest asset in its cultivation of international business is the University of Findlay. Drawing students from 30 countries, it is a great ambassador, Iriti said. Fell, the university’s president, was busy meeting with education officials in India and boosting student recruiting efforts during the weeklong visit.
“That’s why this whole idea of being a welcoming community and being an international community plays well for us because (the university has) all of those international students coming in,” Iriti said. “We can make them feel welcome and as we bring in these new companies, they feel welcome from the business standpoint and their (employees) feel welcome. That’s going to be a very big selling point for us.”
Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin
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