Newsmakers 2013: Bell’s Germany trip generated some leadsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell traveled to Germany in April to attend the industrial trade show Hannover Messe with the intention of promoting the Toledo region to international companies and investors.
Two companies have since visited Toledo to consider opening operations in the region, said D. Paul Zito, vice president of international development with the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP).
Zito, who has attended the Hannover Messe for the past 15 years, accompanied Bell on the trip along with Deputy Mayor of External Affairs and Economic Development Paul Syring, City Finance Director Patrick McLean and others.
The mayor also visited Toledo’s sister city of Delmenhorst and toured Bremen, a port city similar to Toledo.
“Mayor Bell’s trip to Germany for the Hannover Fair and events with sister city Delmenhorst was great promotion for the Toledo region,” Zito said in an email to Toledo Free Press on Dec. 23. “He met with German companies such as Kuka and Argo-Hytos, which employ hundreds in the Toledo area. He also helped to pitch the city of Toledo and the region to German companies as well as to companies from Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and the UK.
“Since then two leads from the Hannover Fair have visited Toledo to consider opening operations in the region. We have several current projects from Germany with the potential for over 200 jobs and over $100 million to be invested in new manufacturing facilities.”
Bell, McLean and Syring, who were visiting the fair for the first time, came away convinced Toledo needed to have a continued presence at the fair.
“We need to be here because Toledo has tremendous potential, but without letting people know Toledo exists, we will not reach that potential,” McLean told Toledo Free Press in April.
Other U.S. cities, including Akron, have been courting international companies for decades, McLean said.
Bell, who also traveled to China, Japan and India during his term as mayor, weathered criticism that his overseas trips were ineffective use of taxpayer money from many, including Councilman D. Michael Collins, who later defeated Bell to become Toledo’s next mayor.
Dean Monske, president and CEO of the RGP, has already reached out to the new mayor, Zito said.
“The RGP is confident that the new administration at the City of Toledo will support the efforts of the RGP and its partners to promote this region for foreign direct investment,” Zito said. “We look forward to working with Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins and his economic development team.”
McLean has since left Toledo to take a job as director of the Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service at Albion College. Bell and Syring did not respond to requests for comment.