On October 30, a delegation of Japanese business leaders from Keidanren, an economic development organization based in Japan, gathered in Ohio to strengthen their relationship with Ohio’s business leaders before visiting Washington, D.C. Although the cohort had previously visited 14 other states where Japan holds significant investments, Ohio is the only state the group chose to visit twice.
“The state of Ohio has one of the larger investments with a large number of Japanese companies in a number of years,” said Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the Keidanren and senior advisor, of Toray Industries, Inc. “It’s a most important state relationship. We want to be better corporate citizens and encourage more investment.”
According to Sakakibara, Japanese companies are fond of Ohio for its favorable business climate and workforce. Ohio has almost 6 million people in its workforce, and more than 200 academic institutions contribute over 170,000 skilled graduates to the talent pipeline every year. Moreover, Ohio is among the top states for business climate, economic outlook, regulatory environment and small business tax climate.
Ohio’s tax climate is built around what works for companies and what makes them succeed not on the theory of what contributes to business growth. “Ohio’s business-friendly tax climate, which has been in place since 2005 and has enjoyed bipartisan support, continues to stimulate company growth, job creation and profitability,” said Lee Crume, director of Global Business Development for JobsOhio.
Ohio is a fruitful state, claiming the seventh largest economy in the U.S. and the 21st largest globally. One of Ohio’s greatest advantages is that it boasts a $2 billion budget reserve to soften the blow to Ohio’s businesses in case of a financial emergency.
More than 3,700 foreign establishments from 49 countries have investments in Ohio. These international establishments employ over 244,000 Ohioans. According to the Organization for International Investment, Ohio is the eighth largest employer for international companies in the U.S. and, since 2010, Ohio’s FDI employment has increased by more than 23 percent.
Seven countries make up 78 percent of all of the foreign investments in Ohio:
Companies like Valfilm of Brazil, Hematite of Canada and BrewDog of Scotland have selected Ohio above all other states for their very first investment in the U.S. “We were looking for the last 10 years to come to the U.S., but we weren’t sure how to start from zero,” said Tiago Geronimi, director of Valfilm USA. “This was a great opportunity for us. And people from Ohio helped us a lot with the transition and to close the deal.”
Even companies already within the U.S. have chosen to consolidate operations across the nation in Ohio. When Steiner eOptics, a subsidiary of German-based Steiner, wanted to expand its product line and bring together its Ohio and California facilities, it chose Ohio. “Ohio provides a business-friendly climate,” said Alan Page, Steiner’s general manager. “And the greater-Dayton area gives us access to a deep pool of highly educated engineers and researchers aligned with the defense industry as well as a skilled and motivated production workforce.”
Ohio wants to see its foreign investors succeed. To do so, its organizations and stakeholders are taking steps to make sure concerns and ideas are heard and addressed. The meeting with Keidanren was attended by Gov. John Kasich, who asserted that Ohio will be sure to have a direct contact for companies in Japan in need of assistance with first-time investments, expansions or other issues. In turn, Gov. Kasich suggested that the Japanese leaders take time to share their suggestions for how Ohio can better work with Japan.
In short, what Ohio offers Japan, it offers the world. Ohio has the resources and assets that enable businesses to find success in Ohio.