Ambassador visits Neosho
Posted on August 25, 2014 18:28 pm CDT
Neosho Daily News
by Dave Hovath
Read the article here.
An international delegation visited K&S Wire Products in Neosho Friday to gain some ideas on helping their emerging economy to thrive.
Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan, was joined by his aides Kaisar Kopish and Janibek Bektemissov, all as guests of Seventh District Congressman Billy Long on their visit to the nation’s heartland. Along with aides of the congressman, area state representatives Bill Reibold, Bill Lant, Bill White and Sen. Ron Richard joined the tour of the K&S Wire facilities, guided by Gene Schwartz, president.
Umarov observed that Kazakhstan is a strategic partner to the United States.
“We work on international issues, we try to avoid conflicts,” he said. “Kazakhstan today has a strategic location. The U.S. is involved in Afghanistan, it is involved with Iraq, with Russia and China and all of the countries around Kazakhstan, so today we are one of the reliable partners of the United States in that region.”
Ambassador Umarov pointed out that he saw people at work Friday who really care about their jobs and their lives, who are trying to make it better. He is visiting several places in the 7th Congressional District with Long to learn ways to help spur his country’s economy, after visiting several other states.
“Coming to the local business,” he explained, “we are opening up our economy for business opportunities, and going to different states, going to different cities, we try to find the best examples and bring them back to Kazakhstan.”
Umarov said his travels have provided much food for thought, and for developing cooperative ties.
“We as an embassy will be bringing the best examples of your development to Kazakhstan,” he said. “So I think that this kind of visit helps to understand the vision of what the U.S. has done, and not only the big-scale picture, but also in a very localized way.”
Congressman Long introduced the ambassador, stating that Umarov had explained to him in Washington the situation surrounding his country, and was in search of ideas to keep them moving forward. Long said Umarov had a special interest in livestock, agriculture, manufacturing, and high-tech.
Never before in Missouri, Long said he decided the ambassador needed to visit the 7th District. He said others take contingents to visit the ambassador’s home in Washington, and asked, What good does that do?”
“I want the ambassador to come see us, and build relationships and partnerships and joint ventures,” Long said.
Umarov explained, “Agriculture is one of the priorities of Kazakhstan, so this is the heart of agricultural production. Also we are looking for manufacturing. This visit shows that you have quite good manufacturing capabilities. We are looking forward to high-tech industries, and yesterday at J-VAC we saw a little bit of it. We are interested in big industrial processing industries. So it helps a lot to see what you can offer to Kazakhstan.”
Umarov related that Kazakhstan is a very dynamic country with an emerging economy, coming from the brink after the breakup of the Soviet Union 22 years ago. He said all the former Soviet countries started from nowhere.
“There was no money in the budget, nothing to sell, no foreign partners,” Umarov stated. “Actually it was a time when all the people were suffering very much because of the broken economic ties, lack of jobs, the products which were produced before they were produced by the Soviet Union, and from the moment the Soviet Union broke up, not having any customs or any production.”
He said they had to develop their economic infrastructure and acquire their own currency. At the beginning, Umarov observed that Kazakhstan was considered the least of the 15 former Soviet satellites that was expected to survive, it was predicted to be torn apart because 60 percent of the population was Russian.
“We not only survived, but we today are second to Russia in that space,” he said. “We are dynamically developing our economy. We are open today to investments and technology.”
Umarov said $70 billion U.S. dollars were attracted to their economy, the largest volume of investment to any country in their area.
He said Chevron was the first company to invest in independent Kazakhstan, and that opened the door to the confidence of other companies, large medium and small. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Umarov said radical reforms have been made, and Kazakhstan now has a flourishing entrepreneurial sector.
“Kazakhstan is a forward looking country.” He declared, “We don’t look into the past, we look into the future. We look for the new partnerships, we look for new opportunities.”
Umarov said Friday’s visit was very informative about learning the origin of many products that are on the market, and he commended Schwartz for not only having the manufacturing capabilities, but noted that success depends on acquiring a broad base of customers.
“So I think here you can show us a lot of applications which you have,” he said. “Actually, it’s a great business you are doing. It’s the way to do the small, but the very necessary things in our life that we never pay attention to. It’s excellent that we see your products and I just think that Kazakhstan also can use your example, your way of doing things, starting with small and going big.”
Umarov assessed his trip to the 7th District, and voiced that there is much done across the district that can be easily transferred to Kazakhstan.
“With the entrepreneurial spirit, the willingness to do things, this I like very much because that is the beginning of everything, and this is the road to success,” he said.
Mike Franks, executive director, Neosho Area Business & Industrial Foundation, Inc., advised the delegation that the industrial park in which K&S Wire is located provides for a very robust Neosho industrial community.
Franks said that two major expansion projects are on the horizon for Neosho, including a proposed intermodal shipping center to transfer shipping containers between rail and trucks. He noted that the region is fitted with highways, rail and three major airports within 100 miles, so the whole area is poised for growth.
Franks said a Foreign Trade Zone being established in Neosho is a major impetus for manufacturing, and spoke of its importance for Kazakhstan.
“Your country, which is obviously a very energy-rich country at this point – almost all hydrocarbons, gas and oil and everything like that – still buys a lot of equipment overseas that comes in and a lot of that could be made in places like this,” Franks said. “A great deal of commerce could happen between the two.”
Schwartz said Long regularly shows off manufacturing sites in the district.
“And he’s always been so impressed with what K&S Wire does, and it’s every year, sometimes twice a year, he’ll call me and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got so and so with me and we’re coming through Neosho, could you give us a quick tour?’ And he just enjoys coming through. It makes me feel good because he’s proud of what we’re doing in Neosho,” he said.