LIMA — This time of the year, more than a few people in Ohio vacation in California, but thanks to Stanford University’s Global Study Trip Program, a group of California grad students ended up taking a trip to Lima.
Trip Coordinator David Ma, originally from Ohio, said many of his fellow students have already traveled around the world or arrived at Stanford from places as far as New Zealand, Russia and Sweden, but few of them had ever visited the Midwest. He decided to change that after talking to Greater Lima Region, Inc. Board Chair Mike Swick, who also happens to be his friend’s father.
“It was important to show my classmates a place where they’ve never been,” Ma said.
The group had visited Bellefontaine earlier in the day, and they were headed to Detroit after spending half the day talking with Swick and Allen Economic Development Group President/CEO Jeff Sprague about Allen County.
After reviewing some of the economic and demographic statistics of the region, the students asked questions in the interest of figuring out what may be the root of some of the region’s problems — such as a lack of Millenials and a shrinking population. They even briefly discussed the City of Lima’s building department, Sprague said.
Outside of talking about the region’s economic issues, Ma said the group also learned some of the ins and outs of the opioid issue affecting the workforce through Swick’s viewpoint as president and CEO of Lima Memorial Health Systems.
Other topics of discussion included the economic opportunities in the local area, despite how the region may look from the outside, and the political culture of the region, which may seem surprising for someone living on the West Coast.
Swick said he had his own reservations about the political leanings of the group before talking to them, but the discussions were civil and informative for both sides.
“It was educational for me, ” Swick said. “They have a great perspective of the world.”
Lima Memorial Health was the last stop on the visit. Students were also able to tour Proctor & Gamble’s facility and even got a burger at Kewpee before loading up in a Stanford van and heading north. Over the next week, they’ll hit Detroit, South Bend, Indiana and Chicago.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.