MUNCIE -- Recent trips by local officials to Japan and China have made headlines, but an economic development junket to California has potential to boost one of Delaware County's newest companies and spark local employment.
Mayor Sharon McShurley and Terry Murphy, vice president for economic development for the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance, accompanied Greg Winkler, director of project development for Brevini Wind, and Oliver Viehweider, owner of VAT, on the California trip in October.
"It was about a 40-hour trip," Winkler said. "It was very productive. What we're hoping is it results in an opportunity to build gearbox replacements for wind turbines already in the field, a whole other part of the business we're very excited about."
The California trip was prompted by contacts made during McShurley's September trip to Japan, Winkler said, referring to a two-week trip that also included stops in China.
During the trip to California, local officials met with one company -- which Winkler declined to name -- but when Winkler returns next week he'll meet with two companies.
If Brevini lands contracts with the companies, Winkler said, that not only means more work for Brevini's employees -- projected at 450 workers needed after production begins in 2010 at the company's western Delaware County facility -- but also for suppliers.
Winkler said having McShurley and Murphy along on the trip demonstrated to potential business partners the support of the Delaware County community.
"We very much appreciate the help, the relationship-building, that the mayor and Terry bring to the table," Winkler said.
"Terry was there to tell them how we as a community have supported Brevini and VAT," McShurley said. "I went out as mayor representing the city of Muncie. We became aware of the opportunity in Japan; we came back and connected those dots."