Educators and businesspeople from the Jiangsu province near Shanghai in China pose with Jeffersonville leaders during a Dec. 27 meeting. The city wanted to pitch itself to the visiting group as they toured Indiana and Tennessee to learn about American technical education practices.
JEFFERSONVILLE — When Paul Perkins learned that a group of Chinese educators and businesspeople would be staying in Clark County for a week to learn how Americans teach technical skills, he saw an opportunity to educate them on something else, as well: that Jeffersonville is a good place to locate a business.
Perkins’ company, Amatrol, Inc., a Jeffersonville-based business that creates technical training equipment for colleges and vocational schools, is a partner with Global Corporate College, an American educational organization that works with countries around the world.
As such, Amatrol became a stop for a group of 22 Jiangsu province residents on a GCC exchange trip to the states. The group is also visiting Ivy Tech in Fort Wayne and a community college in Knoxville, Tenn. They’re learning more about the American technical training educational model, which has been gaining interest in China, Perkins said.
But in-between the group’s visits to Amatrol to check out the company’s facility and products, Perkins came up with another activity for them: a Dec. 27 meeting with local government officials and the business community.
That way, business leaders in the group could learn more about Jeffersonville, and possibly consider it as a place to move a facility to in the future, Perkins said.
Clark County is home to several international companies, said Wendy Dant Chesser, the CEO and President of One Southern Indiana.
Six countries are represented at River Ridge Commerce Center: Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, France and — of course — America. There’s also POSCO, a large South Korean steel company, located at the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville.
International companies diversify the local economy, Dant Chesser said. That’s important because if the American economy or a specific industry takes a dive, Jeffersonville won’t feel the bad effects as much as it might have.
Attracting one international company to the area might also attract more countries, said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.
Plus, some of the international companies in the area pay high wages, such as POSCO. The average hourly wage at the South Korean facility will be around $30.
That type of salary can change a community, Moore said. It can mean more money for schools and a stronger customer base for local stores.
It was with that in mind that Dant Chesser and Moore accepted an invitation to speak to the GCC exchange group from China.
The group from China might not have been visiting America to scope out future spots for their businesses, but Dant Chesser said that doesn’t mean promoting Jeffersonville was a bad idea.
“The first step is never that type of specific conversation anyway,” she said. “It’s building the relationship.”
Moore told the visiting educators and businesspeople about Jeffersonville’s infrastructure and its quality of life, while Dant Chesser discussed the role of the chamber of commerce and economic development organizations in attracting employers to the area and about what local businesses say they need from the education system.
Perkins said he thinks the group was appreciative of the time the mayor and Dant Chesser spent talking to them. Their efforts might not result in any future business deals, but that isn’t the most important thing to Perkins.
It was an “opportunity,” he said. A chance for the city to put its “best foot forward” and make the visitors from China aware of what Jeffersonville has to offer.