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Foreign Dollars Flowing Into The Flathead

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KALISPELL -

A German company is investing millions in Flathead Valley Community College.

FVCC faculty say this $46 million gift will bring about benefits for people on both sides of the Atlantic.

So it would seem that Friday the 13th is not all black cats and bad luck.

"I'm very excited that we've been given the opportunity at this award," said Dan Leatzow, an instructor at FVCC.

Leatzow, a specialist in advanced manufacturing, is actually having a great day thanks to Senator Max Baucus's announcement this morning that Siemens, a German company, plans to give $46 million worth of software to him and his students.

"These software packages are used by some of the largest companies throughout the world and this will give local accessibility and training opportunities to students," said Leatzow.

Companies like Applied Materials in Kalispell, where several ambassadors shared breakfast and toured this morning with hopes of investing in Montana industry.

"There's an enormous effort now being taken to strengthen the economic relationship across the Atlantic and German companies are looking to the US to create jobs and to invest here," said Peter Ammon, the German ambassador to the United States.

Today marked the first stop of many for the ambassadors from Peru, Japan, China, and Germany--leading up to the economic summit in Butte on Monday. The tour organized by Senator Baucus is aimed at increasing trade relations.

If companies like Applied Materials begin to increase exports, that means more jobs for skilled laborers--now being produced at FVCC.

"It means more people having opportunities to get educated at a whole new level on new software and it means more people getting a different kind of education," said Jane Karas, president of FVCC.

Leatzow is certainly aware of his surprising good fortune today.

"This is a very rare occurrence," admitted Leatzow.

The software purchased through the grant is not just used in manufacturing, but also architectural and construction companies across the nation.

Curriculum will begin incorporating the new software as soon as the next fall semester and will be available in computer labs in the occupational training building at FVCC and possibly elsewhere.

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