By Governor Dave Heineman
On September 12 and 13, I will be leading a delegation from Nebraska to the 42nd Annual Midwest U.S. Japan Association Conference in Detroit. The delegation will be made up of Nebraska business and economic development representatives who are interested in developing or expanding trade and investment opportunities in Japan.
The conference, Powering the Future: Transformation and Growth Strategies, will feature Japanese and U.S. business experts and economic specialists. The annual meeting typically attracts approximately 300 top industry and government officials, including internationally-known speakers from the United States and Japan.
Comprised of ten member states, including Nebraska, the Midwest U.S. – Japan Association is focused on increasing awareness of how Japan’s markets and resources can showcase the Midwest as America’s most dynamic and inviting business environment. The association is dedicated to educating Japan about direct foreign investment opportunities in Midwest states.
A growing segment of Nebraska’s economy consists of international trade and investment. International trade generates in excess of 56,000 jobs in the state and more than $6 billion in new money each year. More than 300 companies in Nebraska are foreign-owned with total employment approaching 20,000 workers. Approximately 30 percent of Nebraska’s small businesses export which is well above the national eight to nine percent average.
Nebraska and Japan enjoy a strong relationship. In 2009, Nebraska exported $416 million worth of goods to Japan, up 4.5 percent from 2008, demonstrating that even during the most challenging of economic times, the partnership between Nebraska and Japan remains strong.
We are honored to have more than 30 Japanese-owned businesses located in our state. Our oldest and most recognizable investment is the Kawasaki Motor Manufacturing plant in Lincoln, which has more than 30 years of success in Nebraska. This facility is just one symbol of what has been a mutually beneficial relationship between Japan and the State of Nebraska.
The State of Nebraska opened the Nebraska Center in Tokyo in 2006. This office has been very successful at developing new opportunities with Japan and is headed by Koji Nagasaka. He will be attending the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association meeting along with a delegation of Japanese business leaders. They will also attend the annual Passport to Nebraska Weekend in Lincoln on September 10 and 11.
I look forward to this year’s conference and our continuing efforts to expand the relationship with Japan to grow our economy and create more jobs in Nebraska.