St. Marys is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. A wonderfully diverse community that features top tier educational opportunities, many Japanese families call St. Marys home.
“An International Community”
The City of St. Marys is proud to have three manufacturing plants that team with their foreign based parent corporations in providing many employment opportunities for St. Marys and the surrounding areas.
|AAP ST. MARYS CORP. (DIVISION OF HITACHI METALS)|
Established in 1988, AAP St. Marys Corporation is one of the community’s leading manufacturing companies, a leader in the design, development and manufacturer of cast aluminum wheels. AAP St. Marys Corporation is backed by the broad abilities of their parent corporation, Hitachi Metals, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.
1100 McKinley Rd.
|SETEX, INC. (DIVISION OF TACHI-S)|
Setex was established in St. Marys in 1988 and constructed a second facility in 1998. Setex is a tier 1 supplier of seats for Honda Manufacturing. The company is supported by their partnership with Tachi S Corporation and Johnson Controls.
1111 McKinley Rd.
|MUROTECH OHIO CORPORATION (MTO)|
MTO was established in St. Marys in 2000. The company produces precision metal stamping components for the automotive industry.
550 McKinley Rd.
Sister City Relationship(s)
AWAJI CITY, JAPAN
The Sister City relationship between St. Marys and Awaji City, Japan, is one of the oldest Sister City relationships in Ohio. The bond between the two communities was established in 1985, with a Sister City Resolution being signed by both communities. With several adult delegations and annual youth exchange, the relationship has provided an opportunity for over 500 individuals to experience home stays in each community.
The Sister City relationship between Lienen Germany and St. Marys was established in 1995 under the guidelines of a friendship organization and later grew into a Sister City relationship between the two communities. The relationship remains strong with many youth and adult delegations traveling to each country to develop new relationships and to visit old friends.
Sister City History
AWAJI CITY, JAPAN
St. Marys began a friendship with the Japanese people in 1977 through the Working Youth Goodwill Mission to the United States, sponsored by Dr. Kenzaburo Hara (served over 50 years in the Japanese Diet and was Minister of Labor and Speaker of the House) and through the efforts of a local attorney, Barrett G. Kemp. When our community showed continued interest in Japanese culture and continued welcoming Japanese groups every 2 years, Dr. Hara suggested that St. Marys become a sister city with his hometown of Hokudan-cho located on Awaji Island. In 1985, a Sister City resolution was passed by the St. Marys City Council and Hokudan-cho which started an agreement for an exchange of friendship and culture that continues today.
St. Marys and Hokudan-cho celebrated 20 years of sister city friendship in the year 2004. During those 20 years we have established a strong bond of friendship among the people of both communities. With several Adult Exchanges and our annual Youth Exchange, this relationship has provided the opportunity for over 500 individuals to experience home stays in each community. The home stays have created friendships where frequent overseas phone calls, letters, cards, and visits continue even now.
In 2005 Hokudan-cho merged with 4 other communities on Awaji Island to form a new city now known as Awaji City. The inaugural visit by a 10-member Youth Delegation from Awaji City to St. Marys occurred in August 2005. July 31, 2006, the first Youth Exchange Delegation from St. Marys visited Awaji City and on August 7, 2006, a 12-member Youth Exchange Delegation from Awaji City visited St. Marys. An agreement was signed by each Mayor and Council President to continue the sister city relationship that began with Hokudan-cho.
The economic environment of our community has also benefited as three Japanese industries have established new facilities in St. Marys - AAP St. Marys Corp., Setex, Inc., and Murotech Ohio Corporation. Combined, these companies employ nearly 1200 individuals. St. Marys was also a host city to the Keidanren CBCC during their mission to the Midwest USA in 1991.
In 1995 the devastating Hanshin Earthquake destroyed many cities and caused the death of many people in Japan. Thirty-nine people died in Hokudan-cho. A memorial service was held in St. Marys on the Sunday following the earthquake. Channel 7 from Dayton filmed the service and a news clip of the memorial from St. Marys was aired throughout Japan. The people of St. Marys raised over $25,000 in a two-week time frame to aid the town's people of Hokudan-cho. In 1996, Rees McKee and Jack Kuenning from St. Marys traveled to Hokudan-cho to assist in the relief efforts by building two American style homes made of all Ohio materials.
In July 1996, St. Marys, Ohio was recognized by Sister Cities International for Best Overall Program for a community under 50,000. In addition, Mrs. Hope Taft, former First Lady of Ohio, visited St. Marys in January 2000 to learn more about the Japanese lifestyle before she visited Japan in February. St. Marys also assisted Celina and Van Wert, Ohio in creating sister city relationships with Nandan-cho (Celina) and Goshiki-cho (Van Wert). Both of these communities were also located on Awaji Island along with Hokudan-cho.
In 1998, a delegation from St. Marys traveled to Japan for the Grand Opening of the Akashi Straits Bridge, which connects Awaji Island to the main island of Honshu. This bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world between two pillars and took over ten years to build. The St. Marys residents were very honored to participate in this very important event.
We have experienced many exchanges with our friends in Japan including: Working Youth Goodwill Mission in 1977, Teacher Exchanges in 1992, University representatives doing studies, Day Care Teacher Exchange in 1999, Anniversary Celebration in 2001, and Annual Youth Exchanges. The people of St. Marys cherish the friendship built by these exchanges and look forward to future exchanges with our friends across the ocean.
St. Marys' former Mayor, William Sell, and Reverend Arnold Meckstroth helped form the St. Marys-Lienen Friendship Organization (SMLFO) through their contacts with Willie Engels from Lienen along with assistance from surrounding communities. These groups worked together initially to develop the friendship organization. Auglaize County also holds much German heritage among its residents. The neighboring communities of Wapakoneta and New Knoxville have relationships with German communities - Lengerich (Wapakoneta) and Ladbergen (New Knoxville).
In 1995 a delegation from St. Marys and the surrounding area visited Lienen for the first time and the two communities entered into an International Friendship Agreement. In 1996 Lienen residents visited St. Marys and St. Marys returned to Lienen in 1997. At that time it was decided that each community would travel once every 4 years to visit their sister city. The communities staggered the 4 years so that there is an official visit every 2 years.
In 1999 we received a request from a student in Lienen who wanted to be an exchange student for a year. Since we were only a Friendship Organization and not a Sister City, we were not able to participate in the exchange program. Therefore, we had the option of co-hosting with our local Rotary Club or become Sister Cities. The two communities agreed to be Sister Cities and in the Spring of 1999 we became official Sister Cities. Paperwork was filed for the exchange program and Tammo Ibershoffs became our first exchange student from Germany. The group has since hosted several exchange students in our school.
In the Summer of 1999 the group began participating with a Summer Exchange Program that Wapakoneta started 6 years prior. Their program began with 10 students for 4 weeks and grew to 15-20 students ages 16/17. The responsibilities of driving, food, and chaperoning were divided among our communities. The Sister City goals are to teach our visitors our culture and see our cities and country. Today, St. Marys hosts 4-5 youth each year on our own for approximately 3 weeks.
The SMLFO conducts fund raising projects such as recycling days to help support the exchange activities. In addition, donations are accepted along with membership dues to fund the program.
The City of St. Marys has provided our two Sister City Organizations in St. Marys with a facility located at Grand Lake St. Marys. The Sister City Organizations have each been given a room where they can display mementos and gifts from their individual sister cities. A lake channel is directly across from the facility that enables our guests to have boat tours of the lake.
In 2004 a generous donation by a St. Marys resident has provided a corner lot in our Uptown Business District to develop a park to display the history of St. Marys. The park is to be named "Heritage Park" and will be divided into 3 sections: 1) Center of park will reflect the history of St. Marys; 2) Our relationship with Lienen, Germany; and 3) Our relationship with Awaji City, Japan. A series of three murals highlighting the heritage of St. Marys have been hung on the east wall of the park.