Judge-executives return from Japan

September 24, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Lincoln County Judge-executive Ronald "Buckwheat" Gilbert, Boyle County Judge-executive Tony Wilder and several small-town mayors returned home Friday after a week-long trip to Japan, including a meet-and-greet mission with Matsushita executives.

The group visited Matsushita's homeland in an effort to assure the company's continual presence in central Kentucky.

"We went over there just to entice people to do some investing over here," said Gilbert. "A lot of people think Matsushita is leaving, and they (the company) pretty well solidified their stay here."

"We were able to personally contact all the industries we were hoping to contact, exchange some good will and have some good, fruitful conversations," said Wilder. "That was the most important thing gained from this trip. We have made contact with the executives in Japan personally and have had dialogue with them."

Also in attendance was Winchester Mayor Dodd Dixson, Versailles Mayor Fred Seagleman, Bluegrass Area Development District Executive Director Jas Sekhon, former Paris mayor Doug Castle, and Georgetown Mayor Everett Varney. The group was led in part by Matsushita employee Tony Murai.


While forming personal connections with Matsushita executives, the party also toured factories in several cities, including Tokyo and Toyota City.

"It's unreal, there's a factory every 100 feet," said Gilbert.

The trip was funded by Bluegrass Industrial Foundation and left little time for taking in the sights.

"We stayed on the move quite a bit, but the day we met the Matsushita representative we were able to sightsee a bit, and that was wonderful," said Wilder. "It really was a nice trip."

Gilbert said that while he enjoyed the trip, he was still recovering from the 13-hour time difference.

"I have still not gotten over that (jet lag) yet. I wake up at 2 a.m. ready to eat breakfast," said Gilbert.

Through jet lag and humid weather, Gilbert and Wilder agreed that the trip had accomplished the goals of the group. "We let them know we appreciate the jobs that they bring to our people, and let them know we want to keep what we have," said Gilbert. "We have friends that we didn't have before we left."

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