Officials build relationships; hope to attract foreign investment

Business officials from Japan visited Hillsboro Friday to learn about potential opportunities to locate their manufacturing firms in the DOUG BURKHARDT - Business officials from Japan visited Hillsboro Friday to learn about potential opportunities to locate their manufacturing firms in the area. Here, the group is seen on a tour of the Tokai Carbon, Inc., company. Read more about the visit in the June 13 issue of the Hillsboro Tribune!

Executives with 14 Japanese advanced manufacturing firms were in the state for a three-day tour, including a stop for a tour of Tokai Carbon, Inc., on Northwest 235th Avenue, the group’s only Hillsboro stop.

Mark Clemons, director of Hillsboro’s Economic Development Department, said visits such as this one are critical to build bridges for future economic development.

“We’re trying to build relationships, and that takes time,” Clemons said. “This is their first trip to the USA, and the visit has been in the works for about a year. It’s designed to help Japanese companies look at direct foreign investment opportunities.”

Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey welcomed the Japanese officials to Hillsboro during a brief reception outside the Tokai Carbon facility.

“We hope you get a good understanding of what it is like to do business in Hillsboro,” Willey told the group of businessmen through an interpreter. “Hillsboro is already the home of 12 Japanese companies employing about 1,400 people. Many of these companies have been in Hillsboro more than 25 years. This is a very diverse community, and we welcome people from all around the world.”

Metals, chemicals, plastics and high tech companies were among the 14 Japanese companies sending representatives on last week’s tour of Oregon.

“They supply different materials to different segments of industry,” Clemons said. “The focus is to get them familiar with our area, and see the Portland area is a welcoming location for Japanese companies and that a lot of Japanese companies are already here.”

Willey said the collective goal of the visit is to create and sustain long-term relationships with foreign companies and help them make successful investment decisions.

“We hope to see you in the near future, and eventually welcome you to Oregon and Hillsboro as your new business address,” Willey told the business leaders from Japan.

The primary sponsor of the tour was the state of Oregon’s Business Development Department, which worked in conjunction with the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, a daily Japanese newspaper that focuses on technology and manufacturing issues.

“We are very excited to show our friends from Japan how attractive and competitive our state’s business environment is for foreign direct investment,” explained Sean Robbins, director of the Business Development Department.

In addition to Hillsboro, the group also visited Portland, Beaverton, Troutdale and Gresham during their three days in the state.

Clemons said there was nothing more valuable than showing the business leaders that other Japanese businesses that have located in Oregon are proving to be successful.

“We’re introducing them to a lot of Japanese companies already here, and those companies talk about what it is like for them,” Clemons said. “Hillsboro has a future very much oriented toward economic development and jobs.”

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