It was a greeting that delighted everyone inside the ballroom at Brier Creek Country Club. After all, it’s not the first thing you’d expect to hear in an address from the Consul General of Japan.
Takashi Shinozuka, the Consul General of Japan based in Atlanta, was the keynote speaker of The State of Foreign Direct Investment, Focus: Asia, a forum organized by Wake County Economic Development and the Raleigh Chamber.
“All over the state, you find Japanese companies,” said Shinozuka. In the Triangle, there are currently more than 700 international companies, including 145 that are Asian-owned.
The forum focused on Asian investment in our area. Shinozuka discussed trade and the more than $1.5 billion of exports that North Carolina sends to Japan.
“The Japanese community is proud to work with North Carolina and we look forward to growing together,” said Shinozuka.
David Robinson, special counsel with Nexsen Pruet, PLLC and honorary consul to Japan, introduced Shinozuka. “In North Carolina, we don’t just participate in the foreign economy,” he said. “We thrive.”
Robinson added, “Asian companies and Japanese companies in particular continue to be attracted to the business climate in North Carolina.”
Norikazu Mori, chief executive director of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), shared more about that business climate.
He said there are more than 1,000 Japanese-owned firms in the Southeast United States that currently employ more than 170,000 people.
A panel discussion was moderated by Michael Landguth, president and CEO of Raleigh-Durham International Airport. He opened by talking about connectivity being key to FDI.
Landguth said the discussion about FDI points to the need for a nonstop flight to China from RDU. “I truly believe there is an opportunity there for us,” he said. Landguth added that there were 230,000 passengers at RDU going to or from Asia last year.
Landguth asked Gada why Infosys chose Raleigh and Wake County last year for a 2,000-job tech hub.
“That’s something I’m very passionate about,” Gada responded. “We realized we need to seriously invest in building talent with the skills of the future. The availability of talent in general and tech talent, the proximity to clients and business ecosystems, and infrastructure and connectivity like RDU Airport provides every day. Your team convinced us this is the right place to make the investment.” Gada also talked about the relationships that Infosys was able to establish with the Triangle universities.
On the subject of connectivity, Sharon talked about how the flights to and from other regions are extremely helpful in establishing more business.
Landguth also asked the panelists what the local business community can do to encourage FDI in our area.
“Interacting with colleagues from around the globe,” responded Sharon, saying that it will encourage more activity and investment in our region.
“Don’t underestimate your ability as a business leader to positively impact perceptions of our region and state,” said Chung.
Chung also talked about tourism becoming increasingly global. “Chinese tourism is one of our fastest growth sources of overseas tourism in North Carolina,” he said.
The forum provided a wealth of information and engagement. Not only did those in the audience learn about the past, present, and future of FDI in our region, the forum also generated a lot of attention and discussion on social media. The official Twitter hashtag, #FDIForum18, was among the top trending topics in Raleigh for much of the day.
We join with our colleagues at Wake County Economic Development in thanking all of the speakers and panelists for their great insight into a topic that is a key component of our area’s economic growth. We also want to thank all of our sponsors for their support.
Please join us on Aug. 22 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center for our Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Conference. This will be a great opportunity to learn how a strong record of DEI is critical for any region to attract top talent.