Mickey Fornaro-Dean, executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, isn't just thinking regionally in terms of developing the Kansas Logistics Park, or even just nationally.
At Monday's Harvey County Commission meeting, she and Stan Brodhagen of Brodhagen Consulting Service asked commissioners to approve a preliminary plan for sending representatives to German trade shows and building a list of contacts in German industry.
"Both of us are excited," said Fornaro-Dean. "... (We're) continuing to try to build these relationships and opportunities."
"I've always been interested in economic development in Harvey County," Brodhagen said. "... If we're working together, it's going to be positive for the county."
Now retired, Brodhagen reported he has spent 40 years promoting Harvey County and Newton, selling more than 20 warehouse or manufacturing buildings and 40 other types of buildings in Harvey County. He also belongs to the German-American Business Council and has a number of contacts within German industry.
The first part of the joint project includes a German-American Business Council event this summer in Washington, D.C. Brodhagen and Fornaro-Dean plan to attend the event, which features German companies who have expressed an interest in the United States or already have U.S. connections.
A second trip, also to include Brodhagen and Fornaro-Dean, is planned to the Transport Logistic Show in Munich, Germany, an international trade show with an emphasis on logistics, mobility and supply chain management.
"It opens up more doors," Fornaro-Dean said of the networking opportunities.
Commissioners voted to provide funding for Brodhagen to attend the two events. Payments to Brodhagen will be for trip expenses only; he will be volunteering the time he spends working on the project. Payments will be made as reimbursements of actual expenses.
After the first two trips, commissioners will be evaluating results and deciding if they would like to continue with two other trips that have been recommended as part of the plan: a conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on composite materials for the aerospace, transportation and automotive industries; and an exhibition in Hanover, Germany, on agricultural products and machinery.
If the county decided to fund all four conferences for Brodhagen, the reimbursement cannot exceed $15,000 total. Fornaro-Dean reported more than 10 companies and individuals also have pledged to contribute to the project. The amount of donated funds has not been released. For now, the EDC has been asked to produce its own funding for the trips.
Commissioners said they liked the idea of being able to evaluate the plan after the first stage and determine if there was a need for additional trips, and Commissioner Randy Hague said he was voting for the plan due to savings the county had seen by eliminating funding for a previous economic development consulting project.
Brodhagen hoped the project would become a successful public-private partnership.
"We need to try to bring both programs together to get as many people involved as possible," he said.