• 55°

LEDC reaches out to German manufacturers

SOUTH POINT — A recent trip to Germany by officials from the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation has laid the groundwork to possibly bringing European-based companies to The Point industrial park.

“At this point we don’t have any promises, but we made a lot of contacts, a lot of ties,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the LEDC, said.

Dingus, Viviane Vallance, representing the LEDC and the Chamber of Commerce, and Carl Darling, president of the LEDC and plant manager of Americas Styrenics, joined Jeremy Burne, an industrial consultant, formerly with the British Consulate in Germany. There, they toured various manufacturing facilities and a trade show.

“We found so many similarities between Germany, particularly Bavaria, with Lawrence-Scioto-Gallia,” Dingus said. “There are a lot of similar small villages and towns, a good work ethic and people who were very family oriented.”

Dingus sees possibilities for Germany-based companies to move part of their manufacturing operation to the U.S. as these companies have large exports to America.

“The opportunities are there,” he said. “There are real needs to do more advanced manufacturing in the U.S.”

One reason for these opportunities is that in many European countries workers are paid a higher wage than those in the U.S.

“Particularly Germany,” Dingus said. “In our nation we think we are the best paid people in the world. Although we do have good offerings, in comparison to the world as a whole, there are nations that do better. We could manufacture product here for the auto industry like Mercedes rather than them shipping parts from Germany. It would be better to manufacture here with U.S. steel. We could manufacture more inexpensively than they could do in Germany.”

The next step for the county’s economic leaders is to continue the dialogue with these companies, Dingus said.

“We continue to follow up with them by letter and we are joining the U.S. Germany Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “We need to embrace other countries.”