Friends of NEI,
Last month, I had the opportunity and privilege to represent Northeast Indiana at the 53rd Annual Joint Meeting of the Midwest US/Japan Association Conference in Japan. The conference’s theme was “Shaping a Sustainable Future Together,” and it was attended by the governors of Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Nebraska, as well as the lieutenant governors of Illinois and Minnesota.
Japan has a long history of investment in Indiana, dating back to the early 1980s. In 1982, Governor Bob Orr launched an initiative to attract Japanese investment to the state. The initiative was successful, and by the end of the 1980s, there were over 100 Japanese companies operating in Indiana. Today, Indiana is home to over 302 Japanese establishment companies, which employ more than 60,000 Hoosiers.
Japanese investment has played a major role in Indiana’s economic success over the past several decades, helping to make Indiana a leading destination for foreign direct investment.
As we look to the future of our relationship with Japan, the big question is where to focus our efforts to attract future investment to our state and specifically to Northeast Indiana. During our visit to Japan, we had several meetings with corporate and institutional organizations to discuss areas of opportunity, and the takeaway was clear: life science and medical technologies, as well as green technologies, will be front and center.
For Northeast Indiana, this means opportunities in medical devices, regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, industrial biomaterials (including bioplastics and green hydrogen), and other areas. Some of these opportunities will emerge from new technologies and advancements inour established clusters, while others are brand new emerging technologies supported by unprecedented new federal industrial policies and incentives.
Northeast Indiana is already well-positioned to attract future investment from Japan. Our local universities and colleges are conducting cutting-edge research in a wide range of life science and medical technologies, as well as green technologies. We also have a thriving startup ecosystem and a supportive business environment, making us an ideal place for companies to develop and commercialize new technologies.
In addition, we have access to local and statewide innovation assets such as OrthoWorx, BioCrossroads, and Agrinovus, among many others. Our proximity to major transportation and commercial hubs such as Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis makes us a prime location to optimize production and logistics, while maintaining a strong cost competitive edge.
Finally, Northeast Indiana already has a large pool of skilled workers, including engineers, scientists, and technicians. Many of these workers have experience working in the life science and medical technologies, as well as green technologies industries.
The time is right to sharpen our approach, develop new connection points, and articulate why Northeast Indiana is the best place in the Midwest to “shape a sustainable future together” and pioneer something new!