Montgomery County Participated in a Successful Trade Mission to Japan
Saturday, February 09, 2019
Montgomery County’s Erik Collins, Director of Community & Economic Development, and Gwen Eberly, Economic Development and Planning Manager, recently spent nine days visiting 33 companies in Japan. This important trade mission was focused on furthering relationships with the Japanese companies who call Ohio home. Many of these companies have been in Ohio for decades and have recently expanded or are considering future expansions. Collins and Eberly visited with executives of Green Tokai, Co., a Japanese auto parts manufacturer who has been in the City of Brookville for nearly 30 years. With more than 600 employees, they are a committed partner and plan to continue investing in Montgomery County. Meeting with them face-to-face, further cemented the relationship between Montgomery County and Green Tokai’s leadership.
“Ninety-five percent of the trip was to show gratitude to Japanese businesses for having a presence in Montgomery County. Business retention and the expansion of businesses is paramount to our economic development strategy. The businesses we visited appreciated that we took time to travel around the world to visit their headquarters in Japan. They also recognize that Montgomery County’s Economic Development team is available to assist them with any opportunities or challenges their U.S.-based operations face,” said Collins of the trade mission.
Ohio Has a History of Working with Japanese Companies
Ohio is home to 390 Japanese-owned companies who employ thousands of people regionally. Just one company in Montgomery County employs over 600 people. Montgomery County has been supportive of their expansion in the area and continues to support growth by offering tax incentives, workforce education programs and cultural programs. These efforts demonstrate to other Japanese companies how welcoming Montgomery County can be – something highlighted during the trade mission.
Japanese Companies Need a Skilled Workforce
In Japan, the current unemployment rate is hovering around 2.7 percent. This is a historic, 24-year low that makes it more difficult for companies to hire skilled workers. When combined with Japan’s aging population, low unemployment rates create a significant incentive to bring more of a company’s production to Ohio, where skilled workers represent a significant percentage of the population.
“The scarcity of a skilled workforce supply in Japan was a major theme that every business we met with mentioned,” said Collins.
If these trends continue in Japan, it will continue to create opportunities for Montgomery County to attract further foreign investment.
Companies Visited During the Trade Mission
Collins and Eberly met with the following Japanese companies over the course of the trade mission:
Yaskawa (Motoman); Isuzu Motors (DMAX); Honda Motors (Honda Engine); Honda Foundry (CAPT); Toyo Seikan (Stolle Machinery); Sankyo Seisakusho (Sankyo); Yamashita Rubber (YUSA); F-Tech (F&P America); MetalOne (Coilplus); Itochu Plastics (Hexa Americas); Seg (Segna); Mitsui Chemical (Advanced Composites); Nihon Kompo (NK Parts); Ahresty Wilmington; Nippon Steel & Sumikin Bussan (JR Manufacturing; H-One (KTH); Tachi-S Engineering (Setex); Yamada; Odawara Automation; Nihon Plast (Neaton); Sankyo Kogyo (SK Tech); Teikuro Corp.; Fukuvi Chemical (Fukuvi USA); Nihon Parkerizing (Parker Trutec); and Tokai Kogyo (Green Tokai).
After visiting with companies in Japan, Collins traveled to China where he visited the University of Dayton’s China Institute near Shanghai and then met with the FuShou Chamber of Commerce and several Chinese companies. In particular, he met with Fuyao Glass, the world’s largest auto glass manufacturer, whose U.S. headquarters is located in Montgomery County.
“We found that Chinese businesses are still interested in establishing a U.S. location, with some expressing interest in Montgomery County and the Dayton Region. This is partially due to the need for skilled talent and the workforce development infrastructure we have within the county. Additionally, some of the Japanese companies indicated that they would be investing in equipment to help them be a ‘Center of Excellence’ throughout their global network in robotics,” said Collins.
This was a successful trade mission that centered around deepening relationships. It is important to approach economic development through the lens of what will happen five, ten, fifteen and even twenty years from now. The relationships established in 2018 can make a positive impact in Montgomery County’s economy in the near and long-term.