BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Grayson Hall, who leads Alabama’s only Fortune 500 company, has been named the 2015-16 private sector chairman for the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association as the group prepares for a joint meeting in Alabama with its Japanese counterpart.
Hall, who serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Regions Financial Corp., will lead the SEUS Japan delegation at a forum with the Japan-Southeast U.S. Association, to be held Nov. 14-17 in Birmingham. Hall will preside over the conference with co-chair Atsutoshi Nishida, board chairman of Toshiba Corp.
The 38th annual joint meeting will draw hundreds of business leaders, economic developers and political officials to the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. The conference, which alternates between Japanese and Southeastern cities, was held last year in Tokyo. It has not been held in Alabama since 1998, when the groups that promote trade, investment and cultural exchange gathered in Mobile.
The theme of this year’s forum is “Initiative For a Sustainable Future — Through Continuous Innovation.”
“This conference is an excellent opportunity to join together with our Japanese partners and Southeastern states to showcase our state’s successful links with Japan,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “And while we want to highlight the strong ties we have with Japan, the meeting creates an atmosphere of cultural exchange, while allowing delegates to discuss economic development issues and business opportunities.”
In his role as the SEUS Japan private sector chairman, Hall will co-host special events and serve as master of ceremonies with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley at the Birmingham forum. In 2016, he will travel to Japan for the next joint meeting, where he will co-chair the ceremonies with hosts from Toshiba.
“We accomplish great things when we work together to create economic prosperity for all,” Hall said. “This conference provides a unique opportunity for leaders in the Southeast and Japan to build productive business relationships that foster innovation and create sustainable economic activity, and I am honored to be involved.”
Birmingham’s Hall, 57, began his career at Regions as member of the bank’s management training program in 1980 and advanced to senior roles in several of the company’s divisions. He became Regions’ president in 2009 and added the CEO title the next year. In 2013, he was named chairman of Regions, which operates 1,650 banking offices in 16 states.
“Alabama is honored to host this event in 2015 and as Governor I am committed to strengthening the long-term relationship between Japan and Alabama,” Governor Bentley wrote. “Our state will be able to strengthen ties, celebrate successes and continue to encourage future achievements for our state and the region.”
The SEUS Japan Association was founded in 1975 and is closely tied to its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-U.S. Southeast Association, which is made up of top Japanese business leaders and government officials. Besides Alabama, Southeastern states involved in the initiative are Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Alabama companies last year exported nearly $600 million in products to Japan, which has long been a top trading partner for the state. Since 1999, when Honda announced plans to open an auto assembly plant in Alabama, Japanese companies have invested more than $4.8 billion in the state, creating nearly 16,000 jobs. Today, 66 Japanese firms have operations in Alabama.
The Alabama Department of Commerce is helping to organize the 2015 joint meeting in Birmingham.