Indonesian Consul General Rosmalawati Chalid (second from right) looks over some of the automotive parts processed at Versatch, as explained by company co-owner Chad Hill (right). Looking on is Effingham Regional Growth Alliance CEO Craig Nelson.

News Report Staff

Indonesian Consul General Rosmalawati Chalid repeatedly expressed her appreciation for a chance to come to Effingham County last week.

Hers was the second visit by an Asian country’s consul general in about a week to Effingham. On Nov. 28, Japanese Consul-General Naoki Ito toured Effingham through the hospitality of the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance and other organizations and businesses. Ito visited different sites, including the Waupaca Foundry, previously named Hitachi Metals Automotive Components, on the west side of Effingham.

“I want to thank Craig Nielsen and the Alliance for inviting me and showing the potential of Effingham County,” Chalid said last Thursday at a luncheon in the Holiday Inn after she and her staff toured different businesses in Effingham County. “When I looked on the Internet before I came down, I learned some about Effingham. But today, I learned you have many different businesses and they are thriving. I am impressed with the efficiency of the companies we visited.”

Chalid’s office in Chicago helps Indonesian citizens living or visiting in the Midwest. But her office, just like Ito’s, handles some economic affairs. The Alliance is reaching out to the Consul Generals to spur interest for foreign investment within Effingham County.

During her visit, Chalid toured Siemer Milling in Teutopolis, a leader in the flour milling industry. She was shown how Versatech has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years through its design and engineering work, including its efforts in robotics. With her country expanding its technology and ecommerce footprint in Asia, Chalid believes the visit was very worthwhile.

“The entrepreneurial spirit is very strong in Effingham County. That helps businesses grow here. This visit is very, very useful to us,” Chalid said.

Some of the Effingham residents sitting around the table learned some facts about Indonesia that could be helpful in the future for Illinois.

Chalid said there are some Indonesian government officials with ties to Midwest universities, including the University of Illinois. Those links could build bridges on trade or investment in the future.

Chalid said many Americans know of Indonesia as being in Southeast Asia. But they have a dated understanding of her homeland. Most Americans would be able to recognize the name Bali before they would know Jakarta as the capital city of a nation that includes thousands of islands stretching across three time zones.

The Consul General also noted Indonesia has the 16th largest economy in the world. It has 5.1 percent average annual growth rate. Ecommerce is growing because of its large younger population. She mentioned how a Go-market economy offers shopping, massages, house cleaning, makeup services and more through online marketing.

“The digital revolution has arrived in Indonesia,” Chalid said.

Infrastructure improvements are needed in Indonesia. Those include construction of new airports, mass transportation systems, seaports and improved public roads.

But just as Americans might not realize how Indonesia is changing, there is also a disconnect with American culture in her home country. Sometimes, movies and television present a limited view of the United States overseas.

“Hollywood helps. Most Indonesians know more about the West Coat and East Coast. There are not as many Indonesians in the Midwest, but as soon as they know there are opportunities here they’ll come,” she said.

Chalid has worked in Chicago for about a year. She enjoys the culture there because there are many ethnic groups in that city. And she has even developed a taste for Chicago, too.

“I like the Chicago burgers and hotdogs,” she said when asked about American cuisine.

Maybe she and some Indonesian investors might soon gain a taste for what Effingham County has on its plate, too.