Tradeology

The official blog of ITA

Mentoring International Success: A Mid-Size Midwestern Municipality’s Mission

Kevin D. Malecek is the Director of Economic Development and International Trade for the City of Mentor, Ohio

This post is part of SelectUSA’s EDO Spotlight series, highlighting the work of EDOs around the country recruiting foreign direct investment, how that work supports jobs and economic growth across the United States, and how SelectUSA partners with EDOs to support economic development.

Mentor, Ohio Means Business logoRecognizing the unique approach of a smaller municipality to engage in global trade and investment conversation, the City of Mentor has successfully conducted several trade-oriented seminars to inform area companies on the benefits of overseas business opportunities, pursued potential partners interested in FDI through annual trade missions to Germany and the United Kingdom, and marketed incentive programs essential to the success of those that would examine opportunities in Mentor. City officials regularly converse with companies, organizations, chambers of commerce, and overseas governments to explore mutually beneficial partnerships.

In particular, the conversations and visits to the United Kingdom resulted in the negotiation and signing of a partnership memorandum with Medilink Midlands, a trade organization supporting more than 300 life sciences companies in the Midlands region of the UK. The Midlands region shares many similarities with Northeast Ohio: the development of a strong life sciences cluster among them, with companies in Mentor like STERIS and SourceOne and medical facilities nearby like the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and LakeHealth.

The growing “special relationship” between Mentor and Medilink Midlands brought an inbound delegation of Medilink members and their Chairman, Keith Widdowson, to Mentor in October where potential FDI projects were considered. The City of Mentor arranged presentations by the Cleveland Clinic, STERIS, and other essential regional partners to tout the benefits of doing business in Mentor.  As a component of the ongoing relationship, a delegation from Mentor will return to the UK to Medilink’s Med-Tech Expo in May to advance discussions and negotiations. City officials continue to converse with local partners to find linkages with Medilink’s members and encourage local businesses to accompany the City on its trade mission so those companies can find new markets in the UK.

In Mentor’s case, it shows that the population size does not matter – with the right approach, personnel, resources, and initiative, a mid-sized municipality in the Midwest with a mighty economic engine can pursue FDI opportunities anywhere.

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