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Exchange Program Could Bring Millions in Funds

PIKE COUNTY, OH (WKRC) -- Wednesday evening school officials, business owners and parents in Pike county about one hundred miles east of Cincinnati, participated in an educational and international evening.

They're learning about a program that could bring Chinese students and millions of dollars into the poorest county in Ohio.

In a story you'll see only on Local 12 Rich Jaffe says it's a great deal that's all about the business of education.

Frank Feng represents the Wei-ming education group-a Chinese business that's looking to place hundreds of 11th and 12th grade Chinese students with families and schools in southern Ohio.

Today he and a business associate toured Eastern high school in Pike county. 

Feng says " I see building, the people, I see the valuable team coach...this is fantastic...this is the place to go." 

Wei-ming is the largest private education company in China.

The education team came to Pike county because of Superintendent Neil Leist.

Leist grew up here and sees the project as one that would benefit everyone.

Now when it comes to business and economic development there just isn't a whole lot going on in Beaver, Ohio. In fact the school system with 100 employees is the regions largest employer.  But if Neil Leist succeeds in making this Chinese connection it will mean a huge influx of Asian American dollars.

The school will be paid 10,000 dollars for each Chinese student and each host family will be paid 500 dollars a month.

Leist tells us, "They're gonna benefit greatly from this partnership and prepare them with English language when they go into the college classrooms.  We're gonna benefit not only culturally but we're also gonna be benefiting financially."

These education professionals like the area because people here support basic American values and the Chinese parents feel their children would be safe here.

Renee Gordon facilitated the visit. She says, "These are parents who love their children and whose focus is on their child and while they do it differently than how we do it in the states, that's the common denominator."

Micki Atkins is a grandmother and school board member. She says, "I think it's a great opportunity for two cultures to meet and anytime we can understand others then that's just a step forward."

The representatives are looking at a number of schools in southern Ohio.

They tell us that if the school boards and communities approve their deal, students could start arriving here in a matter of weeks.

Local 12 will keep you posted on their progress.



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