Representatives of the South Central Indiana Economic Development (SCIED) region including Seymour Mayor Craig Luedemann joined Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and other Hoosier economic development officials and business executives during a recent trade mission to Japan. With more than 50 Japanese companies already conducting operations within the ten-county SCIED region, officials indicated the primary reason for the trip was to strengthen relationships with those companies and seek additional foreign direct investment into the region.
“Those 50-plus companies employ 16,000 persons in our region, ranging from 2 to more than 2,500 at any one company,” said Jason Hester, SCIED member and president of Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation. “As such, local and regional partners have been making annual trips to Japan for more than 35 years in order to say ‘thank you’ to those companies and also to let them know we look forward to supporting their next expansion and each one after that.”
To promote their message of thanks, SCIED sponsored two State of Indiana receptions, both featuring remarks by Governor Holcomb. The first business networking event was held in Nagoya on September 6, followed by Tokyo on September 10. In total, more than 350 invited guests attended the two receptions. Other event sponsors included SCIED partner Hoosier Energy and local design/build construction firm, Force Construction.
“Our sponsorship allowed us to demonstrate the importance that we place on the relationships between our communities and Japanese manufacturers,” said Kathy Ertel, SCIED member and executive director of the Jennings County Economic Development Commission. “We were also very honored to be the one and only region in Indiana to serve as a sponsor of the two events.”
For Jim Plump, SCIED member and president of the Jackson County Industrial Development Corporation, the trip provided an opportunity to pledge future support, built on nearly three decades of past experience supporting Japanese investment.
“Mayor Luedeman’s term in office ends this year, so it was important for us to meet with the executives of our Japanese companies to tell them ‘thank you’ for their past investments, and to let them know our city and the broader region will continue to support them in the future,” said Plump.
The generation and transmission electric cooperative, Hoosier Energy, served as the top sponsor of the two Indiana events and was represented by Harold Gutzwiller, Manager of Key Accounts and Economic Development.
“The Hoosier Economic Development team works on behalf of our member/owner distribution cooperatives and the communities they serve to help companies benefit from flexible utility rates, robust utility incentives, renewable energy options, and more,” said Gutzwiller. “Our distribution cooperatives have many large electricity customers within the ten counties of the South Central Indiana Economic Development region, so we were pleased to partner with Governor Holcomb’s team and our friends within the SCIED group to communicate our support of foreign direct investment within our service territory.”
In addition to attending the two receptions, delegates conducted individual company meetings, attended the US Midwest – Japan Association annual conference, and some had opportunity to visit Indiana’s sister state of Tochigi to celebrate that long-standing sister-state relationship. Further demonstrating the region’s support and interest in attracting foreign direct investment from Japan, earlier this year, SCIED members One Southern Indiana, River Ridge Commerce Center and Hoosier Energy visited Japan for business purposes, and later this year, Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and Jason Hester will return to Aichi prefecture on a follow-up trip.