A group of German officials and business people are set to visit Clark County this month to build relationships and discuss future agriculture investment in the area.
Agriculture is still the most important industry in Clark County and local business leaders are always looking for opportunities to expand, Vice President of Economic Development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield Horton Hobbs said.
“Agriculture drives our economy,” Hobbs said. “Agriculture production is very important but also is the manufacturing of machinery and equipment to support the industry along with food processing distribution Food agriculture has been our foundation historically and will continue to be moving forward.”
The German collation will arrive in Clark County on April 14 and stay in the area until April 16, Hobbs said. Members of the German-American Chamber of Commerce, heads of German food-related organizations and a CEO of a German food company will attend.
They include Christian Kircher, CEO for LI Food in Germany, Oliver Kolsch, manager of the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries and Andreas Eckstein, an official represenative to the U.S. German State of Lower Saxony.
Hobbs, Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt and Global Impact Stem Academy Director Josh Jennings will travel to Germany in May to continue the discussions. The Clark County Board of Commissioners approved Wilt’s trip last month.
Hobbs said the trip was orchestrated by the German-American Chamber of Commerce and Clark County is one of three areas of the midwest the Germans will visit. While in Clark County, They will tour area farms and the Global Impact Stem Academy.
The school is one of the major reasons the coalition chose to come here, Hobbs said.
“Global Impact Stem has a focus on food ag and bioscience,” he said. “That is unique and that is something that is very attractive for them.”
Students at Global Impact Stem Academy learn about the agriculture business first-hand, Jennings said.
“We are on the ground floor of training a potential workforce,” Jennings said. “The industry will have a talent pipeline to fill high demand and high wage jobs.”
During their visit to Clark County, the Germans will be in the classroom with students completing labs and doing what STEM students do throughout a regular school day.
“I’m really excited not only to visit Germany to see what they’re doing but also to ask questions and see what the opportunities are for our school in general,” Jennings said.
Global Impact Stem Academy has hosted a number of foreign education and business leaders since it opened, including people from Australia and Ghana.
Hobbs said the goal of the trip isn’t necessarily to get immediate investment, but to show the Germans what Clark County has to offer.
“We want to develop a relationship that could lead to sustainable job growth and a growing, stronger Clark County economy,” Hobbs said. “My hope is we start to develop a strong working relationship with Germany. And specifically, this can have real strength of ours. Success to me is to build those relationships with the hope of continuing them well into the future.”
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