By Abrahm Hurt
INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb, business leaders and economic development officials will travel overseas next month to Japan to encourage investment and trade.
“The cultural and economic ties between Indiana and Japan are storied and strong,” Holcomb said in a statement. “With more than 280 Japanese businesses operating in Indiana today, the state’s relationship with Japan is crucial to our economy and to supporting Hoosier jobs across the state.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb
John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, said Indiana and Japan’s relationship started in the early 1980s when Indiana’s manufacturing economy was deeply hurt by recession and the early impact of global trade.
Amid job loss and economic uncertainty, former Gov. Robert Orr began to recruit Japanese manufacturing companies to invest in Indiana by partnering with local business or by building their own capacity here.
“It took a few years, but soon they were making announcements of such investments on a regular basis, which helped to rebuild the state’s manufacturing economy,” Ketzenberger said. “The long-term result, excellent relations with Japan and other countries in the region, and well more than 200 plants in Indiana, big and small, across the state.”
The team will depart Sept. 7 and return Sept. 15. During the trip, they will travel to Tokyo, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture, which is Indiana’s sister-state.
They are expect to meet with Japanese government officials, national business chambers and executives of Japanese companies with operations in Indiana, including Subaru, Toyota and Honda. Holcomb will participate in the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference, which is an annual meeting to convene business and government representatives from 10 Midwest states and Japan.
Indiana is home to the largest amount of Japanese investment per capita in the nation, with more than 280 Japanese businesses that provide more than 58,000 Hoosier jobs. Indiana is the only state with three Japanese automotive original equipment manufacturers and exports $1.6 billion of Hoosier-made goods to Japan annually.
Ketzenberger said it’s important for the governor to forge ties with business and government leaders in the global economy.
“Holcomb has done a good job in the first months of his administration to visit established trading partners in Europe and now in Japan,” he said. “And I hope he’ll begin moving into less proven areas of the world soon.”
The cost of the trip will be covered by donation to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation.
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.