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Group of Italian businesses making stop in Franklin

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Franklin will have just a few hours to sell itself to a group of Italian companies, but the mayor thinks the visit is a chance to bring new business to the area.

A group of Italian business leaders wants to see how Indiana does business, and the state worked with the Johnson County Development Corp. to arrange for the group to make a stop in Franklin.

City officials want to build more relationships with businesses outside the U.S., similar to the relationship the city already has built with Japanese companies, Mayor Joe McGuinness said. Several Japanese companies, such as NSK, have come to Franklin.

“We would love to cultivate a relationship with some European nations,” McGuinness said.

The Italian companies, which include an air and coolant filtration manufacturer and a manufacturer of technology for working sheet metal, will meet with business leaders and the mayor for about an hour Tuesday. The Johnson County Development Corp. invited about 25 companies from across the county to send employees to meet the Italian visitors.

The local companies invited included several in the automotive industry, such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, KYB Americas and NSK, because most of the Italian companies work with automotive companies. Some of the Italian companies are interested in opening sales centers in the U.S., so local businesses that can help set up machinery, such as Heartland Machinery in Franklin and Meredith Machinery in Greenwood, were also invited.

The companies visiting from Italy include Automazioni Industriali Slr, Bonetti Costruzioni Meccaniche Slr, Losma, Millutensil, Riello Sistemi SPA, TAMA SPA and Zani SPA.

Not all of them currently do business in the U.S. After a brief reception at Franklin College, the companies will tour the Mitsubishi manufacturing plant before heading off to their next Indiana stop.

Most of the eight companies target automotive suppliers as customers, and at least one also is interested in suppliers from the aerospace, medical and hydraulic industries. The other companies are also seeking customers that do aluminum, mechanical, sanitation, household appliance and furniture work.

The Italian companies wanted to see a highly automated manufacturing operation, and Mitsubishi was willing to host the tour, said Cheryl Morphew, Johnson County Development Corp. chief executive officer.

The visiting companies are interested in learning about doing business in Indiana, and they wanted to come to Franklin because the city is a manufacturing hub, she said. The Italian group isn’t stopping anywhere else in Johnson County.

“We have an available and highly skilled workforce. We hope to talk a little bit about the communities (and) how they are from a business incentive standpoint,” Morphew said.

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