DECATUR — A group of Chinese business leaders saw Thursday how their companies could benefit from investing in the Decatur area.

The group of 20 accounting/finance executives visited the Archer Daniels Midland Co. office in Decatur and toured the company's intermodal rail facility. It was one of the stops during a two week visit to the United States.

“We're trying to plant the seeds for making connections,” said Matt Rosenstein, a global education and training director at the University of Illinois.

Rosenstein leads the China Executive Leadership program, which focuses on educational training for senior managers and leaders of companies interested in doing more international business.

The group heard from ADM ag services business unit controller Molly Strader Fruit about how the company structures its accounting departments.

The delegation was looking to benefit from learning about the best practices to conduct business in other countries, Jiang Hong said through a translator. He is deputy general director for the Training Center of State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs in China, which is helping to coordinate the visit for representatives from six companies on the Fortune Global 500 list.

The companies cover many sectors, which Rosenstein said includes petroleum, coal, electric power/utilities delivery, insurance, banking, railway, telecommunications, publishing, construction materials and logistics.

Foreign investment doesn't always have to go to big cities, said Ryan McCrady, Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County president.

“We're seeing a lot of interest in foreign direct investment in Decatur and Macon County,” McCrady said. “We have everything needed to do international business in Decatur.”

The Midwest Inland Port, particularly with ADM's intermodal rail facility, can help move products through Decatur with efficient access to both coasts, McCrady said.

McCrady said the access that can be provided through Decatur can help companies manage supply chain risks by keeping products moving to their destinations.

Decatur is less congested than major hubs such as Chicago, said Dennis Whalen, ADM vice president intermodal transportation.

“We do not have that congestion,” Whalen said. “We have the capability to reach 100 million consumers within a one-day drive of the ramp. Its business is growing on a monthly basis.”

McCrady said a major Chinese company, Fuyao Glass, already has recognized the opportunity the Decatur area can provide with the low cost of doing business. It is spending $150 million to remodel the former PPG Industries plant near Mount Zion, McCrady said.

He said the first of two production lines has been refurbished and is up and running. McCrady said Fuyao was attracted by low utility rates and access to the area's transportation network.

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