Sep 13, 2023 - News

Holcomb aims for more Japanese investment

Photo illustration of Indiana governor, Eric Holcomb, with radiating lines.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Michael Hickeyd/Getty Images

Gov. Eric Holcomb found common ground with his Japanese counterparts this week during his latest trade mission — workforce challenges.

Driving the news: Holcomb spent the past week in Japan on an economic development trip, meeting with officials, visiting businesses with a presence in the state and attending the annual conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association.

Why it matters: Indiana has more Japanese investment per capita than any other state, with more than 300 Japanese-owned businesses that employ more than 55,000 Hoosiers.

  • As those businesses seek to expand, having enough skilled workers to fill jobs will be an important piece of the puzzle.

State of play: Both Indiana and Japan are struggling to find enough skilled workers to fill jobs.

  • Japan is facing a challenge from its rapidly aging population.
  • In Indiana, too few working-age adults have the kind of post-secondary education needed to fill high-skill positions, particularly the advanced manufacturing jobs that Holcomb is courting.
  • Holcomb said "workforce, workforce, workforce" was the topic of discussion during a conference session with governors from four U.S. states and three Japanese prefectures.

Between the lines: Recruiting new economic development opportunities was one goal of the trip, but maintaining existing relationships was also critical.

  • Holcomb said he met with leaders from Subaru, Honda and Toyota, which each have an Indiana presence, as well as other companies looking to expand.

What he's saying: The trip isn't about globetrotting, Holcomb told reporters during a call last night.

  • "We are seeking new business," he said.

Yes, but: There's nothing to announce, yet.

  • Yes, but, but: "I'm pretty confident there will be some good news to share later," he said.

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