Tiffin takes on the world

I continue to be intrigued by this area and how it simultaneously feels like a blue-collar town in the middle of rural America and a diverse community with universities, arts and athletics that outpace Seneca County’s size.

In recent times, I’ve been able to view Seneca County’s connection to the world through a few different avenues.

This week, I enjoyed spending an hour with State Rep. Bill Reineke, Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz and Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership CEO and President David Zak, as well as Advertiser-Tribune reporter Vicki Johnson.

Reineke, Montz and Zak are currently joining Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner on an eight-day trip to Japan in hopes of building business connections.

It will be an exciting opportunity for the group, which will join more than 50 other officials from the Buckeye State on the trip, including Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine.

Among other things, the contingent will visit with management of Taiho and American Fine Sinter, two companies that employ approximately 500 people in the Tiffin area.

A trip to Japan by former Tiffin Mayor Bernie Hohman and economic development director Rich Focht helped pave the way for Taiho and American Fine Sinter to set up shop in Seneca County.

Who knows what will happen when this group, that includes state, county and city leadership, builds connections with Japanese businessmen? Understanding that such visits make a big difference in Japanese culture, I’m excited for some of our area’s local leaders to be making this journey as it will go far in maintaining existing relationships and possibly starting some new ones.

You can follow the contingent’s journey next week in the A-T, as we plan to have Reineke, Montz, Kerschner and Zak all share their experiences in our pages and website.

• Sticking with the world theme, another neat thing I did this week was attend an event Thursday celebrating the more than 200 international students this school year at Tiffin University and Heidelberg University.

It was great to see community leaders and students mingling in a relaxed atmosphere, as I was impressed by the effort local leaders made to connect and ask questions of the students. I was especially moved when all of the students gathered for a photo next to a group of world flags.

This is something great for our community, and I hope that Tiffin embraces the students of both universities over the next nine months. TU and Heidelberg, and the students from all over that they bring in, are part of what makes this area so unique and attractive.

• I recently also had the chance to speak at the local Rotary Club, and was impressed with the commitment that group has in supporting both local students participating in an exchange program abroad and abroad students participating in an exchange program in the Tiffin area. This is another layer of “worldliness” that I’m glad to have in Tiffin.

In my four months here, I’ve also read of a number of local students who have had opportunities to study and perform in other countries.

I’m a firm believer that travel and spending time in new places with new people helps one understand and appreciate better the place they are from, and if any young person (or older person for that matter!) has the chance to study or spend time abroad, they should do it.

Thumbs up to different parts of our community bringing a little bit of the world to little ole’ Tiffin.

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.