Meeting with more companies on agenda for Toledo delegation in Germany

Mike Bell arrived at Hannover Messe after a two-hour drive from Delmenhorst. The
Mike Bell arrived at Hannover Messe after a two-hour drive from Delmenhorst. The "city of of the future poster" caught the mayor's attention.

HANNOVER, Germany — Mayor Mike Bell was led today to meetings for "two more investment leads" with companies showcasing products at the world's largest technology fair held annually in Hannover.

"After those, we have a meeting with Kuka, which is part of the Jeep assembly facility," said Paul Zito, vice president for international development of the Regional Growth Partnership in Toledo.

"They are an important employer in the city of Toledo and this meeting is to thank them for their investment and offer any help for future growth," he said.

Like other meetings held Thursday, Mr. Zito declined today to identify which companies the mayor was courting.

Many of the mayor's meetings in Hannover have been aimed at convincing companies to come to Toledo, but Mr. Bell is also meeting with companies like Kuka, Dana Holding Corp., and Argo-Hytos.

City Finance Director Patrick McLean, who is travelling with the mayor, said job retention was also important.

Jen Sorgenfrei, Mr. Bell's spokesman, said an Argo-Hytos official called the mayor's office Thursday attempting to set up a meeting with Mr. Bell while in Hannover.

German-based Argo-Hytos, with offices in Bowling Green and the Czech Republic, is a components and system supplier. It employs more than 1,200 people.

Mr. Zito lived in Europe for 15 years and has attended Hannover Messe for 15 years. Each time, it is a grueling, several day run, he said.

"When I got back to my room a the end of the first day, my feet were screaming," Mr. Zito said earlier in the week.

He has acted as the mayor's translator and facilitator on this German trip - much the same way deal-maker Simon Guo did for Mr. Bell during his four trips to China.

Both Mr. Zito and Mr. Guo hold positions with the Regional Growth Partnership, which was once the economic development arm of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority but broke off to become a privately-funded entity that seeks economic development for the region.

Dean Monske, the RGP chief executive, was Mayor Bell's top economic development official and a deputy mayor before leaving to run the agency.

Today is the final day of Hannover Messe. Mr. Bell said his strategy would remain the same.

"We are going to put on our best face and try to convince people to take a look at Toledo and take a ride there," the mayor said.

Mr. Bell, who faces a reelection campaign this year, said he would not be making any other international economic development trips this year, but he has committed to visit Hyderabad, Pakistan in February, 2014. It is one of Toledo's 10 sister cities, like Delmenhorst, Germany.

Hyderbad Mayor Syed Barkaat Ahmed Rizvi last month, during a trip to Toledo, invited Mayor Bell to visit his city.

Mr. Bell said he accepted that invitation during a dinner in Toledo. At that same dinner, Mr. Bell said he told Councilman Joe McNamara and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez about the promise. Mr. McNamara is a candidate for mayor and Ms. Lopez is considering a mayoral bid.

"I told them to put it on their calendars," Mr. Bell said during a 90-minute bus ride today from Delmenhorst to Hannover.

"The invitation is for the mayor's office," he said.

The Toledo delegation will view a recycling facility in Delmenhorst followed by a reception with Delmenhorst Mayor Patrick de La Lanne.

The team will go to the port of Bremen on Sunday.