The lingering federal government shutdown has forced a delay in the U.S.-China Manufacturing Symposium which was to be held in Dothan.
Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said Wednesday that officials plan to reschedule the symposium – originally set for Nov. 10-12 -- until a date in March. Schmitz said no specific date has been set, but said firm dates could be announced as soon as Thursday.
The delay is due to a halt in the often-lengthy process of validating visas for hundreds of Chinese manufacturers and businessmen who were expected to travel to the United States for the symposium. Schmitz said that even if the government resumed normal operations in just a couple of days, it would not be enough time to process all of the visas.
This marks the second time a federal government issue has caused a delay for Dothan in the past year. In 2012, sequestration led the Federal Aviation Administration to announce the closure of more than 50 airport towers around the country, including one at the Dothan Regional Airport. The announcement caused airplane maintenance and renovation company Commercial Jet to reconsider a planned facility in Dothan. Local officials scrambled to ensure that the tower would remain open and Commercial Jet eventually chose to locate a facility there.
“At first I was really disappointed. We have worked really hard on this for quite a while,” Schmitz said. “But it could be a positive. We can make it bigger and better.”
Schmitz said initial reaction from Chinese companies who had planned to attend the November symposium has been positive.
Schmitz is leaving Dothan on Friday for a 10-day trip to China to meet with various manufacturers.
Schmitz said a small-scale symposium will still be held Nov. 11 in Dothan, primarily for local businesses interested in learning more about business with China.
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