Don’t expect the contingent traveling with Gov. Mitch Daniels on his 10-day trade mission to China and Japan to return to Indiana with a major commitment from an Asian company.
The trip instead is the start of a longer-term strategy to attract business investments from the two countries, said Ron Gifford, CEO of the Indy Partnership, which promotes central Indiana economic development.
“People have asked me if we’re going to bring any new deals home, or have any new business announcements from this trip,” Gifford said via e-mail this morning. “As much as we wish that the world worked that way, frankly, that’s just wishful thinking. Deals don’t happen from one-time visits in the States, and they certainly don’t happen that way in China. This is a long-term strategy.”
Gifford later clarified his comments, saying they had much more to do with China than Japan.
"They really are two entirely different situations: China is in its infancy as it relates to investment in the U.S.; Japan is obviously a very mature partner in that regard, and presents an entirely different opportunity in large part because of the years of groundwork that have been laid," he wrote.
Besides meeting with Asian business executives, Gifford is documenting his experiences by blogging his way through the trip.
Gifford likens the mission to previous jaunts to Japan in the 1980s that eventually attracted major car makers from the country.
“The value of this strategy is most readily demonstrated by the fact that we are the only state in the country that is home to automotive assembly plants for three different Japanese manufacturers: Honda, Toyota and Subaru,” he said.
Several Indiana business leaders and state and local officials are taking part in the trip that started in Shanghai, China, on Sept. 7. The delegation is spending four days in China, before going to Japan and then returning to Indiana on Sept. 16.
Daniels' schedule includes meetings with executives of Honda, Mitsubishi, Sony, Toyota and Subaru. Those going on the trip include the mayors of Logansport, Marion, Muncie, Noblesville, Portland and Valparaiso. The governor's office says the trip's cost is being covered by private donations.