Established in 1989, the Japan-America Society of Alabama supports Japanese businesses in the state by building friendships and fostering understanding through, among other things, the promotion of culture, education, and investment opportunities.
JASA Executive Director Brian Hilson believes that a Japanese company’s understanding of a community’s culture is an integral part of a being a good business community. He said those in community leadership positions must ask themselves: What is needed for a Japanese company's relocating employees to feel at home? Where will their children get their education? Will there be quality activities outside of work for them?
“For a Japanese company to thrive, the community in which it is located must satisfy certain business requirements, such as workforce and infrastructure. However, the community must also understand and be responsive to what we refer to as ‘soft’ or personal issues that are important to the company, its employees and their families. This includes issues such as education, culture, health care, entertainment, and much more,” he said.
According to Hilson, paying attention to and learning the historical context of relationships also help companies and communities develop stronger bonds.
“We've had a long and very successful history of helping Japanese businesses grow in Alabama. Our knowledge and experience enable us to be more empathetic and better prepared to provide an avenue to promote personal and professional relationships between the American and Japanese people of Alabama,” Hilson said.
The first major industrial investment for a Japanese company in Alabama was Sony Corporation in 1969. More than 50 years later, Alabama has more than 80 Japanese companies from a wide range of industries.
Much like Daikin, Honda, Toyota, Mazda-Toyota and other top Japanese companies that have found great success in Alabama, all businesses have one requirement in common: the ability to attract and retain productive and loyal employees. “We are confident that the ability of the state and each community to deliver and maintain a reliable workforce and support each company’s unique needs positions Alabama for continued strong Japanese business growth,” he said.