Dayton mayor Gary Leitzell has returned from a trip to Turkey with other area mayors, university officials, business leaders and other community members. As Emily McCord reports for WYSO Dayton is uniquely positioned to bring their business here.
"It just makes sense to go to Turkey," says Mayor Leitzell.
Dayton is working to become an immigrant friendly city, and the area has 400 Ahiska Turk families. Leitzell says on his trip he explained if you're foreign business and you're looking to expand the US, why not to come to place that already has people you can employ that speak your language?
"And their eyes would light up," says Leitzell. "The other thing, too, is that most Turkish business people think of New York, LA, and Chicago, the big three cities, and it can be quite intimidating. We're saying we're establishing a window of opportunity here in Dayton . You'd be coming under under the radar, get a foothold. Then you can expand wherever you want to expand."
Leitzell says the Dayton group was very well received and business leaders from Turkey plan to come here in the fall. That's why he says it's important to create a fund for international visitors.
"The stuff that we did, and I think everyone on the trip would agree, should have been done by the state or the national level, but we're doing it at a grass roots level," says Leitzell.
Leitzell will hold a conference later in the week to highlight the city's efforts to attract foreign business, something he says is ahead of other cities across the nation.