Representatives from east central Indiana conducted a trade and business mission to Japan in November 2016. The purpose of the mission was to express appreciation to existing Japanese industry partners with facilities located in Indiana, and to explore opportunities for future economic development, investment, and trade.
Mike Pavey, mayor of the Rushville, a city with population 6,300, was an attendee of the delegation. Rushville is home to Japanese subsidiary, INTAT Precision, a supplier for Toyota and one of the town’s top employers. The trip gave opportunity for Pavey to express gratitude in person to INTAT’s parent company, Aisin Takaoka Co., for the company’s rapid growth over the last four years, which accounted for nearly $50 million of investment and more than 70 new employees in Rushville, Indiana.
Other group members, including Dave Snow, Mayor of Richmond, and Valerie Shaffer, President of Wayne County’s Economic Development Corporation, affirmed the success of the trip. The delegation conducted nearly two dozen meetings over eight days, including face-to-face sessions with presidents of Japanese companies such as TBK, Yamaguchi Manufacturing, Yukiya, Asahi Tec, and Suncall, with manufacturing and distributing centers located in Richmond, Indiana. The delegation also met with Honda Motor Company, thanking them for their investment in east central Indiana as a Tier One Supplier. Other meetings held included introductions to prospective industry partners considering opening local operations in Wayne County.
The east central Indiana region is home to 15 Japanese companies that employ nearly 4,000 people. As a state, Indiana has a long-standing bond with Japan, supporting 260 Japanese business facilities and more than 52,000 jobs across Indiana. Indiana is home to the greatest Japanese investment per capita of any US State. Japan is also the state’s largest trade partner.
The delegation also included a visit with the Vice Governor of Tochigi prefecture in Japan, a sister state of Indiana. Other people-to-people ties occur through Earlham College, located in Richmond, Indiana, which has the oldest Japanese Studies program in the country, maintaining a student exchange program with Waseda University in Tokyo for over 50 years.
Members of the delegation prepared for the trip for nearly a year by taking classes on etiquette and business conventions focused on Japanese and American relations. East central Indiana is now planning to include another trip to Japan in the 2017 fiscal year budget.
Alison Ma is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC. She is on an exchange program from the University of Sydney.