Seeing a need to attract more investment and diversify its export products, then North Carolina governor Jim Hunt opened the NC Japan Center in the state capital Raleigh in 1980 to bolster ties between its local residents, businesses, universities, students, and private and public institutions and their Japanese counterparts.
Being located at North Carolina State University, which is "a large land grant institution," the center recognizes “the natural and logical synergies between academics and industry,” said Jonathan Brewster, the NC Japan Center’s director of global engagement. Apart from business and education, the center also promotes cultural relations between state and Japan.
Over the last three years, North Carolina has seen robust growth in various industries, including food production, food sciences, vehicle assembly, automotive parts, electronic equipment, EV battery manufacturing, as well as storage and warehousing.
The strongest performers though have been in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sectors, most notable of which are Japanese-owned FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and KBI Biopharma Inc., an affiliate of California-based JSR Life Sciences and Japan-based multinational JSR Corp.
It is not suprising to see the emergence of such industries in North Carolina, which benefits from the confluence of prestigious universities and research centers in the state. Brewster hopes this advantage will attract more Japanese students to North Carolina State University, as well as to other top-ranking educational institutions like Duke University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
“Once Japanese students come to North Carolina, they love it here. They’re very well supported. The cost of living is low. The community here is great. North Carolina has so much to offer Japanese businesses, individuals, and families. We are committed and motivated to welcome them with open arms and support their operations in our state,” he said.