On Friday, January 25th, we went back to the Paradigm Center at Mentor High School (where the State of the Mentor Schools took place on Wednesday) in order to take in some of the “Doing Business in Europe” seminar that was put on by the City of Mentor International Trade Initiative organized by Mr. Kevin Malecek, Director of Economic Development and International Trade; Dr. Mercedes Sanchez-Moore, International Trade Manager; and Ms. Kelly Conrad, Administrator for Economic Development. As the introductory slides said, “Doing business in foreign markets improves your outlook by enabling you to take advantage of the ebb-and-flow of a global economy. Industry experts will provide valuable strategies you can put to use right away in your business.”
Unfortunately, due to our schedule, we could not stay for the presentation of our good friend, Mr. David Silk, Chairman Emeritus of the British American Chamber of Commerce but we were there for the presentations of Mr. Nate Ward, Center Director and Trade Advisor for the Ohio SBDC Export Assistance Network at CSU; and Mr. Gerrit Ahlers, Director of Consulting & Corporate Development Services of the German American Chamber of Commerce.
Along these lines, we were really interested in a program that Mr. Ward talked about which was the Ohio Export Internship Program that “provides an opportunity to businesses interested in growing exports by matching them with highly motivated college students who have taken export-focused coursework.” Mr. Ward told us that this program has been in existence for seven years now and has made use of the talents of several international students.
In the course of his presentation, Mr. Ahlers talked about the trade relationship between Germany and the United States and the functions that the German American Chamber fulfills as the “official trade arm of the German government.” For us, what was especially intriguing was how Germany transported its ICATT Apprenticeship Program to the United States to help German-based companies facing skilled labor shortages. As we read online, “it is the only program in the Midwest fully benchmarked on on the German Dual Education System-an approach recognized globally for its combination of company-specific knowledge, theory, and hands-on learning-the ICATT Apprenticeship Program results in highly-trained employees that position companies to embrace technical advances, keep pace with market demands, and harness growth opportunities.” Despite bitter winter weather, the conference was very well attended by local manufacturers and financiers. In addition, Ms. Kathy A. Skledar, Adjunct Faculty member of Lake Erie College, was present along with several students from the international marketing classes that she teaches.
The second event for Friday was the 2019 Awards Luncheon put on by the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce at the Painesville Township Park on Hardy Road.
This years the recipient of the Business of the Year Award was Conway Land Title, a family- owned and operated business that has been a staple of the Lake County community for over 60 years now. The honor was accepted by Mr. Neil J. Conway who operates the company along with his wife, Ms. Maureen C. Dolan, as the President and Vice President although their children are starting to be active too.
The Beacon of the Year Award recipient was Perry Center of Lake County, a strictly volunteer-based organization that has been in existence for nearly 30 years that supplies food to those in need and directs them to where they can obtain assistance with other matters. The award was accepted by Mr. Art Buser who coordinates the modest enterprise.
Before the presentations, very accomplished short films were shown documenting the history of both recipients and the services they provide. These impressive films were made by Mr. Ryan Eisenhuth, a student of media production at Perry High School with the guidance of his instructor, Ms. Coleen Moskowitz.
Along these lines, we were inspired by the achievements of four students involved in the ECITY (Entrepreneurship, Connecting, Inspiring and Teaching Youth) program at Harvey High School in Painesville. In the course of this endeavor, “students learn the basics of operating a business, create an original business plan and connect with professionals who offer insight from their business experience.” On this day, Miss Erica Razo, Miss Sam Doeing, Mr. Merkel Peterson, and Miss Nevada Melton proudly displayed their products and we couldn’t resist purchasing a “tidy brush” from Ms. Razo.