International ambassadors: Local group to visit Europe for business, tourism

-A A +A
By Nathan L. McBroom

A coalition of local officials will travel to Europe next week in order to strengthen ties with foreign businesses and governments.

The group is composed of members from the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation, The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, and the Shelby County Tourism Commission. They will leave on Wednesday, July 9, and will stop in four countries during their 10-day visit.

The trip is a collaborative effort between those organizations in order to promote local business and tourism.

Charlie Kramer, director of tourism, said such networking trips greatly benefit local business.

"Were going to spread the word that Kentucky is a great place to visit and to do business," he said. "Everybody we meet outside of Shelby County is a potential tourist. And with a weaker dollar, the U.S. is a great place for Europeans to vacation."

The group of 13 will first visit Shelbyville's sister-city, Bitburg, Germany.

David Eaton, who strengthened ties with the city while he was mayor of Shelbyville, said it is important for the community to attract foreign companies to do business here.

Eaton, who went to Bitburg in 2001 and 2002, said the trip "will be huge for local business and tourism."

While the group is in Bitburg, they will attend the city's annual international folk festival. Eaton said the festival is on par with the Shelbyville Horse Show in its importance to their community.

After the group spends a couple of days there, they will visit the home offices of three companies that have factories in Shelby County.

First they will fly to Paris to visit the corporate offices of Alcan Packaging.

Next, they will make a stop in Belgium to visit the headquarters Bekaert Corp.

And for their last business stop on the trip, the group will fly to Austria, to visit the headquarters of Roll Forming Corporation.

Also during their European visit, the group will stop in Ahcans, Germany, which was the site of the 2006 World Equestrian Games. While they are there, they will collect a sample of water from a stream. Water, which is the symbol of the equestrian games, will be collected from each of the countries that have previously held the games. Similar samples will be collected from each of Kentucky's 120 counties. A fountain that uses the collected water will be created for the games in 2010 in Lexington.