A Successful Trade Mission to Japan Deepened Relationships and Created Opportunities

Monday, February 11, 2019

Horton Hobbs IV, Vice President of Economic Development, Amy Donahoe, Director of Workforce Development, and Toni Overholser, representing training opportunities with Clark State Community College,  with recently traveled to Japan to participate in a trade mission aimed at deepening the relationship between Clark County and the Japanese companies who have chosen to call Clark County home. “We wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to the companies who have already invested in our community. The trade mission allowed us to meet with executive leadership teams in person, establish a friendly relationship and show them that we are a partner committed to helping them succeed. We must not take these relationships for granted but continue to foster them,” said Horton.

Three teams from the region traveled to Japan, meeting with a total of 31 companies. Horton, Amy and Toni met with four companies who currently have locations in Clark County – Metal One Corporation, Teikuro Corporation, Nihon Parkerizing and Yamada Corporation.

Horton Hobbs, Amy Donahoe, and Toni OverholserThese meetings created an opportunity to thank company leadership for their investment in Clark County, discuss goals and challenges and to introduce them to the resources available in the area. Each company expressed a need to continue growing their workforce. “We sent our workforce team to Japan to reinforce that we have a workforce strategy and are working closely with their local firms to meet their needs,” said Horton.

Trade Mission to JapanClark County’s HITS Team is uniquely positioned to solve workforce challenges. The HITS Team (hiring, investment, training and space) combines the skills and resources available from area organizations. By collaborating in a meaningful way, the HITS team is designed to quickly and efficiently solve workforce challenges. This results in a pooling of resources for the betterment of Clark County businesses. For example, one organization may coordinate workforce training grants while another one works to create or enhance on the job training programs. Introducing Japanese leadership teams to the resources available through the HITS Team was an important aspect of the trade mission. Now, they have a deeper understanding of the unique resources available in Clark County and how their businesses can benefit from them.

Springfield and Clark County is Uniquely Positioned to Support International Companies

Organizations throughout Clark County have created collaborative partnerships to provide solutions and produce results for new and existing businesses. “We know how to work together and that enables us to focus our energy and efforts on supporting businesses. It is far easier for businesses to receive solutions because our partners work together as a team. Any one organization can make the necessary referrals and introductions, so that our county’s resources can be pulled together to solve challenges and help businesses to capitalize on opportunities,” said Amy.

The available resources and collaborative spirit of Springfield and Clark County has positioned the area to take advantage of current and future business opportunities. For example, one of the Japanese companies they met with is interested in developing a new business line and is considering doing so in Clark County. Horton and Amy have had follow up meetings with their local leadership and are working to provide the company with the solutions they need to move forward in the decision-making process.   

Relationships Established Today Will Bear Fruit Tomorrow

We asked Horton how he saw the relationship between Clark County and Japanese companies changing in the next decade. He said, “I see it growing significantly. I think the investments we have now are more secured today than ever before. There is a definite opportunity here for us to see additional growth. By being intentional, we will continue strengthening our relationships so that they think of Springfield and Clark County when making business decisions. The goal in a lot of what we do is not to have an immediate win. So much of what is undervalued in the economic development world is the value of the relationship. People come and go from the company so the relationships with companies cannot be superficial. We have to develop multiple layers of relationships so that if someone leaves or retires, we have multiple touchpoints both in the US and in their home country. Our HITS program is focused on building relationships by listening to what their needs are and solving an immediate pain point. By becoming a trusted resource partner, we are establishing those relationships in a meaningful way and that creates future opportunities.”

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