By Hannah Dunbar
Findlay area officials traveled to Japan two weeks ago as part of an “economic mission trip,” according to The Courier. President Katherine Fell, City of Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Director of Findlay and Hancock County Economic Development Tony Iriti, along with Assistant Director for Economic Development Tim Mayle, and University of Findlay Associate Professor and Chair of the Language and Culture Department Hiroaki Kawamura met with business leaders, educators, and politicians during their time overseas.
According to The Courier, the trip was part of a current relationship Findlay officials have with Japanese leaders. Mihalik, Fell, and several others traveled to Japan in 2012 and members of the Japanese government have also made trips to Findlay in the past. Fell said she is sure they will meet again since their relationship is ongoing.
“Our first Japanese company established a presence in Findlay about 26 years ago,” said Fell. “I have been at The University of Findlay for five years and have made five trips to Japan.”
Fell said she imagines that someone from the City of Findlay will continue to go to Japan at least once a year. The trip was both an educational and economical outreach, according to Fell.
“The University of Findlay has strong relations with Saitama Prefecture and Fukui Prefecture so we visited the governors of both prefectures who received us very warmly,” said Fell.
According to The Courier, Findlay officials were also scheduled to meet with people from Atsumi Tech, Seiren & Fukui Chemical, and the Hamamatsu Chamber of Commerce. Trip members met with businesses, some of who are already engaged in northwest Ohio, who would like to expand, Fell said.
“We also visited with university experts in Fukui Prefecture and we’re hoping those relationships will enable new businesses from that prefecture to open a business or manufacturing plant in Findlay or northwest Ohio,” said Fell.
Although the trip was mostly business-centered, Findlay officials did have time to socialize. According to Fell, they had a nice evening where Japanese students who had studied at UF joined them.
“We had a lot of fun with the students,” said Fell. “They spoke with great affection of their time here at UF.”
In addition, Fell experienced wonderful Japanese cuisine during her trip. The most interesting dish, she said, was Japanese-style jambalaya.
“I am from Louisiana so I know a lot about jambalaya and it was delicious,” said Fell. “It was topped with scrambled eggs, which I found a little exotic.”
Fell was interested to see that the University of Fukui has been working hard on a strategic plan where theory learned in the classroom can be applied to real-life situations. This plan builds the bridge between what universities often teach and what the industry needs, according to Fell.
“In many ways, bridging the gap is what we do at UF and I was heartened by that as well as encouraged to continue the work we do to bring the best of the liberal arts together with the best of professional preparation,” said Fell.
According to Fell, this friendship could result in the future creation of more jobs in Findlay.
“I would say that our friendship with Japanese education and business leaders is one of the most enriching aspects of living in Findlay,” said Fell.