On Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin's desk last week, he placed a memento given to him during a trip to Asia this summer. A photograph of an Asian business owner sits behind, on the large hutch lining the back wall of his office in the Logansport City Building.
Thousands of miles away, a Chinese businessman in upper-level management drinks coffee from a mug Franklin gave him during a visit to Logansport. Franklin hoped to return the gesture Friday.
Pursuing investors for Logansport's economy can seem like a dance — local officials take a step, interested businesses take another — and according to two local representatives involved in efforts to expand local business, it's one that involves give-and-take with foreign, as well as domestic, investors.
Recent research conducted by the Indiana Business Research Center, part of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, indicates foreign funds — more specifically, foreign direct investment, which usually means part or whole ownership of a U.S. business by foreign citizens — play an integral role in expanding Indiana's economy, especially its manufacturing base.
U.S. businesses with majority foreign ownership employ about 133,600 people in Indiana, according to the IBRC, putting Indiana 14th in the nation as of 2010. Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany are the largest sources of such employment.
Two of those three countries have welcomed Logansport representatives in the last few months.
Franklin said he doesn't want to overlook domestic investment, but "I try to go where the opportunity is at," he added.
That included a trip with other Indiana mayors and Gov. Mike Pence to visit Japan in early September, followed by an independent trip to China where he met up with state Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) to visit with a variety of Chinese business representatives.
Franklin said he funded his trip to China himself; the funds for Head's travels came from funds earmarked by the Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization for an Asia initiative.