Indiana economic development officials are in Japan this week to bolster relationships with the Hoosier State’s top source of foreign investment.
The Asian nation backs more business in Indiana than in any other state – especially in the automotive sector, at Honda, Toyota, Subaru and their suppliers.
And that investment isn’t just about jobs. Those big Japanese-owned factories are also huge energy consumers. That’s why Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Japan trip includes power company executives, such as Harold Gutzwiller of Hoosier Energy in Bloomington.
“It’s not only the direct international investment from Japan, but also the indirect investment from all of the suppliers and the homes and the businesses, that really impact all of Southern Indiana,” Gutzwiller says.
The same is true to a lesser extent for northern Indiana, where Randy Mitchell leads the White County economic development organization. He’s going on the Japan trip to try and build more investment around Subaru, in neighboring Lafayette.
“Subaru has done a wonderful job expanding their operations,” Mitchell says. “And when they do that, everybody in the region benefits – it provides more jobs.”
White County has near-full employment, and one in three jobs is in manufacturing – mostly with American companies. But it’s one of a minority of Indiana counties with no Japanese investment right now.
Mitchell hopes to change that in Japan, meeting with developers, bankers, and businesses that might want to expand or relocate to the Midwest.
“We want them to know that the availability of an educated workforce is here in the state, particularly in the Northern part of the state,” Mitchell says. “And we want to welcome them to come visit us and look us over.”
Indiana already has 58,000 Japanese-funded jobs, and it’d get 4,000 more if it lands a planned new Toyota-Mazda plant. Indiana is one of 11 states vying for that factory, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Holcomb will spend the week in Japan meeting with executives from Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi and others. He’s also one of five U.S. governors set to attend the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference in Tokyo.