By CALLIE DANIELS BRYANT
United States municipal and state officials are reaching out to Japan for economic opportunities and increased employment for the nation’s rural areas.
Japan is the second largest foreign direct investor (FDI) in the United States, and the value of this country’s investments has grown to an estimate of $13 billion this year. Japan has created over 860,000 jobs in the United States, mainly in manufacturing.
In Mississippi, Japan is the number one foreign direct investment partner that has employed approximately 14,000 workers throughout the state through investments in Nissan Canton, Toyota Mississippi in Blue Springs, Yokohama in West Point, and numerous Tier I and Tier II automotive suppliers. Outside of the advanced manufacturing, Japan’s FDI include sports good manufacturer ASICS in Byhalia, frozen food manufacturer Ajinomoto Windsor in Oakland, and Calbee Foods, Japan’s largest snack company, is located in Senatobia.
Nissan has invested more than $3 billion in its Canton operations and currently employs 6,400. Nissan has announced a $170 million investment in two of its facilities which includes its Canton location for upgrades so they can manufacture the 2019 Nissan Altima.
“The significant investments generated for the state by these companies and the thousands of direct and indirect careers created as a result reap significant benefits for the communities in which they are located, as well as the state’s economy as a whole,” said Glenn McCullough, the executive director of Mississippi Development Authority.
He added that Nissan and Toyota “are shining examples to potential investors of industry leading companies achieving their goals in Mississippi.”
McCullough was recently in Tokyo for a seminar: “Doing Business in Mississippi,” in partnership with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
He said that Kiyoshi Tsuchiya with the Japanese company Auto Parts Manufacturing in Lee County gave a presentation, and Japanese executives asked questions pertaining to doing business within the state which gave him and MDA opportunities to pitch Mississippi to them.
McCullough began advocating Mississippi to Japan since 2001 when he began serving as chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He has visited Japan more than a dozen times since. During his time with MDA has participated in four business development missions to Japan.
“MDA works with our partners in towns and communities,” he said, “in all 82 counties to support building capacity through site certification, which includes site development and infrastructure, as well as workforce training to best meet needs of companies looking to locate or expand in Mississippi. We also promote all areas of the state through business development missions to Japan to encourage new investment and new career opportunities for Mississippians.”
McCullough said that Mississippi is thriving in the global economy, and that the continued investment by industry-leading Japanese companies in their Mississippi operations will help the state attract new investments by sharing their Mississippi success stories.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty has hosted Japanese CEOs along with Gov. Phil Bryant. The U.S. Embassy has reportedly fielded requests from small to mid-size Japanese companies that are interested in potential FDI within the nation, especially in rural areas, and has expanded in its role by arranging appointments for U.S. visitors representing these areas to Japan.
Bryant and the MDA team have maintained “strong relationships” with existing Japanese business partners like Nissan and Toyota.
“We meet with them and other companies headquartered in Japan to discuss their goals and how we can assist those companies in achieving those goals in Mississippi,” McCullough said.
McCullough believes that Mississippi being a right-to-work state is a boon to the Japanese companies’ goals.
“Mississippians are loyal employees who take pride in a job well done,” he said. “We understand when companies are successful in our state, we all win and share in that success. Companies achieving their goals in Mississippi spur economic growth and improve the quality of life in their communities. MDA is committed to working with our business partners to support them in their endeavors to reach their goals and achieve long-term success in Mississippi.”
He continued: “Mississippi and Japan have a strong foundation built upon trust, friendship, mutual respect and mutual prosperity. Our relationship with Japan fosters mutual benefits including new investment and careers, for the people of both regions.”
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