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City ‘stepped up to plate’ for Chinese -- Macklin, Schultz not sure of what’s next; vow to continue effort

November 29, 2012

While touring Bellmont High School, the gift of a Bellmont shirt obviously pleased one of the Chinese visitors to Decatur, Bao Zongren, (Photo by Jannaya Andrews)

    "We had a nice package prepared and they appreciated it. I think we went a long way toward solidifying a good relationship," Adams County Economic Development Director Larry Macklin said Wednesday.
    A six-member delegation from the Chinese community of Jiaojiang departed Decatur between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Tuesday, returning to Indianapolis for the flight home. They arrived here late Sunday night and began a whirlwind tour of the community on Monday morning.
    "You know, before they left they said how pleased they were with our hospitality and you could tell they were sincere; they weren't just saying something," Macklin remarked. "They said they enjoyed their stay and were very complimentary."
    Mayor John Schultz had similar thoughts. "I felt it went well, certainly," he said on Wednesday.
    The six men, from a much larger community than Decatur, were impressed with Decatur's small-town hospitality, its style, something they didn't seem quite used to, Macklin continued. "We told them that it's alway like that here."
        The visitors toured the Bellmont high and middle schools, the Fleetwood RV plant, Bunge North America's compex, and the Adams Memorial Hospital campus.
    "Kudos to (Superintendent) Wiley Sirk and his principals for the package they put together," Macklin said. "They did it at the last minute because we didn't know until late exactly where they (the Chinese) wanted to go.
    "They (the Chinese) were impressed with the Fleetwood and Bunge plants. They were in awe of how big the place (Bunge) was and Keith Sanders (plant manager) gave them a great presentation on how all parts of the soybean is used. I guess they don't have soybeans where they are."
    The last stop was the medical complex. "They were very impressed at how pristine everything is and how modern the equipment is," Macklin noted.
    "So I must say how very pleased we all are at the way business and the schools stepped up to the plate for us on this. It just went very well.
    "So where does it go next? Well, we'll see, but we'll continue to work on  it."
    Schultz is hoping for some solid economic development to come out of the relationship.
    "To me, it's three-fold," he said. "Cultural, educational and economic development. The educational and cultural aspects went well. The economic development? I have no answer at this time; we'll just have to see how it goes."
    The mayor said he believes there will be further educational and cultural exchanges with the Jiaojiang leaders. "But I really hope for some economic development out of this. We'll certainly keep working at it," he said.
    Macklin and Schultz have taken the lead in developing what they and other community officials hope will lead eventually lead to a Sister City relationship with Jiaojiang, and the many economic, educational and cultural advantages that could mean.
    Schultz and Macklin visited Jiaojiang last June as part of an Indiana delegation and the Decatur men made the first contacts toward a Sister City setup.Two Chinese businessmen visited Decatur last August, touring three industries, the hospital and schools.

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