Three from Kokomo meeting state, Fiat officials
By SCOTT SMITH
Tribune staff writer
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight will travel to Milan, Italy, the week of July 12-18, for expected meetings with key business leaders and executives with Kokomo’s newest — and largest — employer.
City spokesman David Galvin said he and Goodnight will travel with Jeb Conrad, leader of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Association, to Milan, where they will rendezvous with officials from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Goodnight has been considering the trip ever since a letter to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne was answered with an invitation to meet Fiat executives at company headquarters in Turin, Italy.
It’s not expected the Kokomo/Indiana delegation will meet with Marchionne, who is reportedly spending most of his time these days at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
In Kokomo, Chrysler workers are expected to start back to work in earnest next week now that the bankruptcy sale of Chrysler to Fiat is final.
Before the bankruptcy there were still more than 4,600 Chrysler workers in Kokomo; now local officials are hoping the new ownership not only retains those jobs, but also adds more. At its peak in the late 1990s, Chrysler employed more than 7,000 here.
“We need to go. The [Chrysler sale] is definitely going to be opening the U.S. market for them, and the mayor thought it would be smart to get in touch with them,” Galvin said. “Who knows? Kokomo might become the headquarters of a division.”
Galvin, whose city job has focused largely on marketing Kokomo as friendly to sustainable and renewable energy technology, said those efforts have already been noticed by Fiat.
“Because they recognize the efforts we’ve made towards sustainability, we want them to think of us first, and it helps for us to go there and show our enthusiasm,” Galvin said.
Like Honda, famous for setting “zero landfill” goals for its plants, Fiat has been at the forefront of green tech, pursuing a zero emissions factory and creating another assembly specifically designed to de-assemble and recycle old cars.
In addition to an expected two days of meetings with Fiat executives in Turin (about an hour’s train ride from Milan), Goodnight, Conrad and Galvin are also hoping to meet with other businesses.
Galvin said the city is relying on the IEDC to schedule meetings throughout the week, but the focus will be on meeting with Fiat suppliers and with businesses involved in green technology. So far, the final schedule for the week hasn’t been set, he added.
“If we’re going to be a hub of green industry in the Midwest, we’ve got to talk to the people that are doing the green industries,” Galvin said.
He said the state-funded IEDC will be making travel arrangements and buying the plane tickets, and said the city will reimburse the state for those costs. Galvin said he and Goodnight expect to spend about $4,000 between them for the week. He said Conrad’s travel will be picked up by the GKEDA group.
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at (765) 454-8569 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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