The University of Findlay, the City of Findlay and the Findlay/Hancock County economic development office have worked together through the years to mutually improve economic development. Katherine Fell, Ph.D., president, and Hiroaki Kawamura, Ph.D., chair of the department of language and culture, recently traveled to Japan to reinforce existing relationships and build new ones.
Fell and Kawamura traveled to Japan with Lydia Mihalik, Mayor of Findlay, and other community leaders who focused on economic development to attend the U.S. Japan Midwest Conference Sept. 6–15.
“The University has had a close relationship with the Findlay community for a long time, especially in relation to Japan and economic development,” said Kawamura. “This trip was an extension of that.”
Saitama, Japan, is the sister state of Ohio, and UF supports the Ohio Saitama University Scholarship (OSUS) program.
“We have been accepting university students from Saitama University each year,” said Kawamura. “This Ohio-Saitama relationship expanded from our campus to the city.”
In addition to attending the conference, the trip was intended to reinforce relationships with the Japanese companies that have already established themselves in Findlay by meeting and visiting them in Japan.
“It’s business, but the bottom line is personal relationships,” said Kawamura. “We also wanted to invite new Japanese companies to Findlay.”
Meetings were held between Findlay representatives and representatives at the U.S. Embassy, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) as well as newer companies in Japan, in order to establish new relationships.
“We visited the Saitama government, met the governor and visited one of the University’s affiliated universities,” said Kawamura. “We wanted to welcome their students not only to our school but also to the city.”
Administrators at UF want to help the city of Findlay create a welcoming community.
“We have ongoing work to do, and when we talk about a welcoming community, the University students are a big part of it,” said Kawamura. “We want the community to welcome our students, but we also want our students to be a part of this welcoming community.”
Kawamura explained that by establishing and maintaining these personal relationships, UF gains financial support while students gain benefits, and the community experiences economic development.
“By working with Japanese companies, our students have part-time jobs with these companies. Some students are hired to work with their companies after graduation and our students are hired to work with Japanese children,” said Kawamura. “We visited with a goal of furthering our relationships with Japanese companies and seeking more possibilities.”
Written by Sarah Foltz