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ALLEN COUNTY VISIONARIES DINNER: Both Sides of Music, the Economy

October 27, 2006

By Tim Rausch, The Lima News, Ohio

Oct. 27–LIMA — In a black suit with sequins, Judy Collins swept from stage right to open with one of her most memorable songs. “Rows and floes of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air,” Collins sang the opening to “Both Sides Now.” More than 600 people filled Crouse Hall at Veterans Memorial Civic Center Thursday to see the Grammy-winning performer. Collins performed with the Lima Symphony Orchestra, a departure from the speakers and comedic acts of the last few years for the annual Allen County Visionaries dinner. The audience got to see other sides of Tom Francis and John Rudolph, honored by the group for their service to the community. In a statement on the county’s economy, Allen Economic Development Group Chief Executive Officer Marcel Wagner said it has been difficult, losing two automotive suppliers and a third yet to shut down. “It is going to be important for our organization and our partners to learn to adapt to the changes that are coming to the auto industry since it is such a big part of our region,” Wagner said. Wagner said there is growth in the region despite the setbacks, citing the hospitals and retail and the new Procter & Gamble distribution center. Lima lost a project to Indiana, Nestle, but gained Alpla Inc.’s new facility from Indiana. “Despite disappointment in coming in number two on the Nestle project, we recently got a letter from Deloitte & Tousche that told our organization that our community did an outstanding job of competing for that project,” Wagner said. Proceeds from the dinner and show benefit the Visionaries, a group that provides half of the funding annually for the Allen Economic Development Group. Prior to the performance, the Visionaries handed out two awards. The Visionary of the Year Award was presented to John Rudolph, the co-founder of Rudolph Foods. He was honored for his contribution to the Riverwalk and Streetscape projects in Lima. “It is a beautiful town. It is a wonderful town,” Rudolph said. The Visionary Citizen of the Year Award, for nonmembers of the group, was given to Tom Francis, who has served on the board of a dozen agencies in Lima. His voice was heard on the radio for 25 years. “What an evening,” Francis said. “This is something that is unbelievable.” Francis said loving Lima “is what we all do.”"I have a great feeling for this community, the direction it is going. We’ve had a few bumps in the road, but we’re on the way, and let’s think of it in a positive fashion,” Francis said.

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Lima News, Ohio

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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