INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb landed in Japan Friday morning to kick off a weeklong trip to attract more business from Japan.
The state said the partnership between Japan and Indiana is quite strong. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation said Indiana exported $1.6 billion in goods to Japan in 2016, and Japan has invested more than $3 billion in Indiana since 2013.
Japan may be more than 6,000 miles away, but traveling the distance brings a chance for massive economic growth in Indiana.
“I think the best thing that comes out of the governor being there is a reassurance that we’re there to work with them,” said Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun, whose city has strong ties to Japan.
Thousands of jobs have already been created in Indiana cities from Japanese companies, including major car companies like Toyota and Honda.
“It would be devastating if we lost that level of trust and cooperation because they again make up the majority of our jobs here,” said DeBaun.
Shelbyville Mayor DeBaun and Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said to keep relations strong, they’ve made their own trips to Japan, too.
“Once they feel comfortable with doing business not just in America but with a particular community, then they’re more likely to be involved and invest here locally,” said Broderick.
These trips can mean big business. NTK is a Japanese company that builds parts for engines. The company announced earlier this year it will be building a $100 million-manufacturing plant, creating a couple hundred jobs in Anderson.
Broderick identified what he saw as one of the big reasons behind NTK’s announcement: his trip to Japan this past spring.
“There was some uncertainties that they had some other locations they were looking at and thinking about, so we felt if we could sit down with them and talk with them and recommit to them how we felt about their company and about them being here in the community, it would be helpful,” he said.
The governor’s trip will not cost taxpayers any money. State officials said it is being paid for by private donations through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.