FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Matt Bevin is leading an economic development and trade mission to Japan and the Republic of Korea.
He will be joined by Economic Development Cabinet officials to promote Kentucky in meetings with leaders of Japanese and South Korean manufacturing, service and technology companies to strengthen ties and encourage international investment along with job creation in Kentucky.
Meetings will include those firms who already have facilities in Kentucky, as well as new prospects.
“Kentucky continues to distinguish itself as America’s center of engineering and manufacturing excellence. In a globally competitive economy, it is imperative that we build new relationships and strengthen existing ties with companies in Japan and the Republic of Korea,” Bevin said. “Both nations play a significant and growing role in the commonwealth’s economy, international trade sector and in our industrial, commercial and technology supply chains. We are committed to developing new opportunities across the globe that create jobs, investment and economic growth for Kentucky.”
Japan is the largest international investor in Kentucky, as Japanese-owned companies operate more than 190 facilities in the state, with nearly 46,000 full-time employees. More than 140 of those firms are automotive related.
According to the governor’s office, the Japan-Kentucky business relationship stretches back to 1974 when machine-tool supplier and service provider Yamazaki Mazak Corp. of Aichi, Japan, established its North American headquarters in Florence. Delegations from Kentucky visited Japan twice last year, in March and December, and the governor’s office regularly hosts Japanese cultural events, celebrations and business meetings throughout the state.
Since Bevin took office in December 2015, Japanese-owned companies have announced 67 expansion or new-location projects in Kentucky. Those represent nearly $2.9 million in planned investments and more than 3,760 new full-time jobs. That includes $1.45 billion in reinvestments announced last year by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, the automaker’s largest plant globally.
Five companies with roots in the Republic of Korea operate or are currently building a total of six facilities in Kentucky, currently employing nearly 400 people with an additional 200 jobs pledged.
Through March 2018, the most recent data available, Kentucky exported about $100 million in products and services to the Republic of Korea, making it Kentucky’s 14th largest export destination by dollar value.
Kentucky’s exports to Japan this year through March, stood at $270 million in products and services, making it Kentucky’s ninth largest export destination by dollar value.
In addition to meeting with individual corporate teams, members of the Kentucky delegation will host business networking receptions in both nations, hold discussions with trade associations, chambers of commerce and government officials, as well as meet with U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty.