A delegation from Decatur's potential sister city in China will be visiting here next Monday and Tuesday.
The eight men from Jiaojiang will arrive in Decatur late Sunday night and be greeted. They then will be picked up by a local delegation — including Mayor John Schultz and Adams County Economic Development Director Larry Mackin — early Monday for a tour of the city, with several scheduled stops.
Following breakfast at West End restaurant, the delegation will go to the North Adams administration office, Bellmont Middle School and Bellmont High School. The Chinese men plan to visit classrooms in both schools and lunch with students at the high school.
Among the delegation will be Zhu Daohong, director of the Jiaojiang Education Bureau; Hong Xianyu, a high school principal; and Chen Yijun, a high school teacher who will serve as interpreter.
In the afternoon, the group will visit Fleetwood RV and and the Adams Memorial Hospital campus. After dinner at the Back Forty, the delegation will attend a special meeting of Decatur City Council.
On Tuesday, the visitors will tour Bunge North America, lunch at the hospital, then return to Indianapolis for the flight home.
Also in the delegation will be Bao Zongren, executive director of Jiaojiang People' Government, Taizhou City; Zhou Weizhen, director of Jiaojiang Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Taizhou City; and Oiu Jiazheng, director of Jiaojiang Commerce Bureau, Taizhou City.
This will mark the second visit to Decatur by a Chinese delegation. In August, two Chinese businessmen toured three industries, the hospital, and schools.
They had made an initial contact with Schultz and Macklin last June when the two local officials visited China with an Indiana delegation.
During that time in China, Schultz and Macklin signed a Memorandum of Understanding. It says both sides "agree to make efforts on the basis of equality and mutual benefit to promote exchanges and coopration in the fields of economy, trade, science and technology, culture, education, personnel, etc."
It also states that "both cities should keep frequent conrtact and consult with each other on the issues of exchanges and cooperation as well as matters of concern to each city."
Mayor John Schultz said it best: "Will anything come of it, I can't say. But we put our best foot forward. Maybe something will (come of it) some day down the road. I hope so."
Speaking at this week's city council meeting, the mayor was referring to the visit by two Chinese businessmen which had ended earlier on Tuesday. Arriving late Sunday night, the two spent all of Monday and part of Tuesday looking over three of the city's major industries, the hospital, schools, etc.
The initial contact was made in China recently when Schultz and county Economic Development Director Larry Macklin were part of an Indiana delegation which traveled there. So this week, Qian Changshang, chairman of a couple of Chinese companies, and John Zhang, president of the companies, checked out Decatur and Adams County.
Will the visit lead to doing business here? Perhaps building here? No one can say. But as Schultz and Macklin will tell you, there is no loss to making an attempt to lure some form of business to our area.
Two things seemed to stick out following the visit: 1. The contributions of the local business leadership in, as Schultz described it, putting "our best foot forward." 2. The impression our labor force left with the Chinese visitors.
Macklin and Schultz are effusive in their praise of the leadership at Fleetwood, Gold Shield and Bunge North America. Each, without hesitation, opened their facilities to the visitors, answered all questions and made superior presentations. The theme of all three was, "What's good for Decatur is good for all of us."
The mayor and economic development director will also tell you what a strong impression the local workforce made on Changshang and Zhang. They were genuinely impressed and said the business community should be pleased to have this type of worker available.
So we go back to the starting point: The city put its best foot forward and if that's good enough for some development down the line, fine. If not; well, all that's lost is the effort.