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Is spending $5K to send leaders to Japan a good investment?

Johnson City Press • May 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM

A delegation from Washington County will soon be racking up some impressive frequent flyer miles in the name of economic development. As Press staff writer Nathan Baker reported last week, it is expected to cost $5,000 in airfare to send two officials from the Washington County Economic Development Council to Japan.A portion of that cost will be covered by local taxpayers. The WCEDC is the official economic development arm of Washington County, Johnson City and Jonesborough, and is partially funded by those governments. The council also receives funding from private businesses that pay for voting memberships on the organization’s board of directors. Mitch Miller, CEO of the WCEDC, and County Mayor Dan Eldridge will be responding to an invitation from Katsumi Okita, president of Nakatetsu Machining Technologies (which has a manufacturing facility in the Telford Industrial Park), to visit his company’s headquarters in Takashima, Japan. Officials say they plan to discuss the company’s possible expansion at the Telford facility. Miller told the Press that all dining and accommodations will be provided by Nakatetsu during the five-day stay, but the commercial airfare to Japan is the responsibility of the WCEDC at a cost of $2,425 per person.The CEO said the travel expenses are well worth the costs if the Japanese company is considering another expansion in the United States.Nakatetsu, which employs almost 80 in Washington County, manufactures tapered roller bearings for the automotive industry. The company has operated a plant in the Telford since 2007.We’d like to hear from you. Do you think spending $5,000 to send a local delegation to Japan is a prudent investment in economic development? Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

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