THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo
When Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) and Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States met several months ago, Mr. Latta invited the ambassador to visit northwest Ohio “to see what we do here.”
Monday, Ambassador Manuel Sager, and his wife, Christine Sager, originally from Hudson, Ohio, took up the congressman on his offer, touring four institutions.
“Switzerland and the U.S. have excellent economic relationships,” Mr. Sager said.
Mr. Latta said the purpose of the meeting was to exchange ideas and information on trade and economic development issues, as well as showcase the hard work and ingenuity that’s being employed in northwest Ohio.
The couple, along with Mr. Latta and his wife, Marcia, visited Owens-Illinois Inc., Owens Community College, Lourdes University, and the Campbell Soup plant in Napoleon.
At the Owens-Illinois research and development facilities in Perrysburg, the Swiss couple learned about the Vickers Hardness Indent Tester, which tests the strength of glass; saw analytical equipment that measures color and ultraviolet protection, and watched glass pour like honey to form a small sample.
Mr. Sager said both countries are great sources of innovation and provide global companies with opportunities for expansion.
“We have been consistently among the top five investors here in the United States. Conversely, there’s also about 1,000 U.S. companies that invest in Switzerland, and O-I is one of them,” he said.
The ambassador said it is a great honor that O-I chose Lausanne for its European headquarters, but it is also a testament to Switzerland as a great business location.
Mr. Sager said recycling is important in his country, and he was particularly interested in O-I’s research toward a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process.
At Owens Community College, the group enjoyed a Swiss meal — including sausage salad, pasta with ricotta cheese, and Swiss chocolate tart — with members of the board of trustees. At Lourdes University they discussed policy with local chamber of commerce members. And they met with the mayor of Napoleon and plant leadership at Campbell Soup, touring facilities and viewing a solar field project.
The tour was as much about introducing Ambassador Sager to the region as about promoting an economic relationship, Mr. Latta said.
“We have 60,000 manufacturing jobs in my district, and as we were coming over today, we learned that there are 10,000 jobs in the state of Ohio that are related to companies that are Swiss,” Mr. Latta said.