MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Governor Robert Bentley will travel to Japan on an economic development mission with the goal of recruiting more jobs to Alabama and strengthening relationships with Japanese companies that already have facilities in the state.
The governor will depart on Sunday, November 10, to begin a week-long series of meetings with various employers to discuss opportunities for growth that would lead to more new jobs for Alabamians. Governor Bentley, along with Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield and the Department of Commerce’s Asian business development expert, Hollie Pegg, will meet with Japanese trade officials, biotech industry representatives, and key executives at Toyota, Honda and other companies with operations in Alabama. The team will wrap up meetings early Friday, November 15, before returning to Alabama.
“My number-one priority is bringing more jobs to Alabama, and this economic development mission will help us do just that,” Governor Bentley said. “The State of Alabama enjoys a strong business relationship with several companies that are based in Japan. Thousands of people in Alabama have a job today thanks to that ongoing relationship. By building on those relationships and by discussing our positive business climate, we can further our goal of recruiting more jobs to Alabama.”
According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, more than 60 Japanese companies already have operations in the state. Japan also is one of the top five destinations for Alabama-made products, with exports valued at more than $800 million in 2012. Chemicals, minerals, vehicles and metals are among the primary Alabama products shipped to Japan.
Governor Bentley’s meetings with top executives at Toyota and Honda next week come as the two global automakers continue to expand their Alabama operations. Toyota is in the midst of a $150 million expansion of its Huntsville engine plant, the only location in the world where the automaker produces four-cylinder, V6 and V8 engines. By 2015, Toyota’s investment in Alabama will total $850 million.
Honda this spring launched mass production of its 2014 Acura MDX sport utility vehicle at its Lincoln plant, the first time the automaker has assembled a vehicle from its luxury line in the state. Over the past two years, Honda has announced investments totaling $400 million in Alabama.
In addition to meetings with the automakers, the Alabama team will meet with leaders of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), a government-related agency that works to promote trade and investment. They are also scheduled to tour biomedical facilities and meet with executives from a Japanese pharmaceutical company, a chemical maker and an auto supplier.
The trip will be Governor Bentley’s first official visit to Japan.