Japanese delegation visits Madison County and Metro East

Japanese tour Madison County

Chairman Kurt Prenzler presents his business card to Japanese businessmen while welcoming them to Madison County during their first stop in a two-day trip to discuss economic development and potential business sites. The Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois and AllianceSTL organized event for Keidanren USA and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Chicago.

Oct. 3, 2019

Japanese delegation visits Madison County and Metro East 

EDWARDSVILLE — A Japanese delegation visited Madison County on Thursday to discuss economic development and potential business sites.

Chairman Kurt Prenzler and Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton greeted several members of the groups at the Madison County Administration Building. The Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois and AllianceSTL organized at two-day trip in the Metro East and St. Louis region for Keidanren USA, which is a liaison entity for Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Chicago, a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan.

Prenzler welcomed AllianceSTL Senior Vice President Jim Alexander, Keidanren USA Executive Director Yasuhiro Uozumi, Consulate General of Japan Chicago Motohiro Hayami, JETRO Chief Executive Officer Ralph Inforzato and JETRO Director Public Affairs Tsubasa Hashimoto. He also presented them with a Rivers and Routes pamphlet printed in Japanese as well as a Madison County bi-centennial lapel pin.

Gift giving in Japan is a central part of Japanese business etiquette.

The group visited the County Board Room then settled in a small conference room where they discussed the county and community.

“The growth (in Edwardsville) is fantastic,” Patton said. “The quality of life here is what we believe makes it a success.”

Inforzato said his office covers 12 Midwest states and said Japanese manufacturers are coming to the Midwest and creating thousands of production jobs for American men and women.

“What we found the past year working with the Consulate Generals Office and the Japan Business Federation, we found a lot of little governments they are interested in attracting Japanese production companies,” Inforzato said. “We termed that local government self-responsibility. It’s actually a remarkable thing.”

He said they had never visited southwest Illinois and like the economic environment and felt it was time for a visit.

“We work with local governments to help set the stage to make relationships for you to meet Japanese companies,” he said. “It’s the first step.”

Madison County Employment and Training Director Tony Fuhrmann discussed the opportunities his office could provide businesses when locating in the county with workforce solutions and training.

Circuit Judge Sarah Smith also met with the group and took them on a tour of the Courthouse, her courtroom and office.

Inforzato said it was the first time the group met judge when touring a community.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said.

The visit comes nearly three months after local government, economic and academic officials visited Washington D.C. for a roundtable discussion.

On Friday, the delegation will attend the Leadership Council’s monthly meeting, which will include a presentation detailing what they are seeking in development opportunities. The group will also take a tour of Southern Illinois University Illinois Edwardsville School of Engineering, America’s Central Port, Gateway Commerce Center and attend Southwestern Illinois College’s Manufacturing Day event.