Russian businessman Nicolai I. Sinilkin visited the United States to see capitalism at work. So naturally, he ended up in Crofton.
At least to town manager Jordan L. Harding, the West County community was, unquestionably, the natural choice for a group of 14 Russian business executives learning free-market economics.
"They will look at big industry the rest of the tour," Mr. Harding said. "I wanted to show them what goes on around a small town."
The businessmen traveled from Russia courtesy of Russian Capital Limited, a Moscow company set up in anticipation of evolving democracy in the former Soviet Union.
"They felt that for Russian businessmen to understand their new role, they need to visit major industrial powers in the world," said Petr L. Spurney, owner of Washington-based Petr L. Spurney Associates Inc., which was hired by the Russian company to host the tour.
"As Russia opens up and as more people look to the West, these programs are becoming more popular," said Jim Akers, program assistant in the international division of the United States Department of Agriculture's graduate school.
During two weeks of total immersion in American business and life while staying in Washington, the executives take business classes run by the graduate school. And they take tours.
Friday's bus tour through Crofton included stops at a wastewater treatment plant, a cement plant, a cable company, a home builder, a farm and a fire station.
At the state-of-the-art Patuxent Water Reclamation Facility, superintendent Daniel R. Rumke lead the group through the plant. describing how it purifies the wastewater and returns it to the Patuxent River.
Among other things, the tour allowed Mr. Sinilkin "to get acquainted with American business people," who, he found, "have absolutely the same concerns," he said through interpreter Oleg Yaroshin.
Mr. Sinilkin, whose company produces electric insulation materials and has begun building offices and motels, said he already has begun negotiating with American companies to purchase supplies that are more difficult to come by in Russia.
The other Russian executives worked for factories that produce metal, oil production machinery, oil pipes and chemicals.