If anyone appreciates the importance of being easy to reach, it must be Georgia’s Department of Economic Development. It was the main reason for the agency’s success with Japanese investors.
“We really do want to maintain lines of communication. We want to meet all their needs,” said Joseph Huntemann, managing director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Japan Office, about his primary mission to attract more Japanese investment to the state.
“This office has been very focused on bringing over foreign direct investment and continues to do so. Ninety percent of my day-to-day still involves working with companies that invest from here. Whether it’s their first time, or their second, third or fourth expansion, this office’s role is about bringing an inbound investment, helping existing industries to continue to invest and succeed,” Huntemann explained.
Since it opened in Tokyo in 1973, the office has searched for leads on Japanese companies looking to invest in Georgia, qualified them and assessed their objectives and requirements. For the viable prospects, the office provides information on potential sites, relevant incentives, and vital connections with local development authorities.
“We don’t just look at one piece of the puzzle, but we holistically try to bring together all pieces of economic development through the office. I would like to find a way to really carve out and dedicate a big piece of this office’s task load to simply caring for these Japanese companies because our existing industries and our existing investors are family. They’re the people we have to take care of first,” Huntemann said.
For nearly 50 years, the tireless commitment of GDEcD’s Japan office has paid off profoundly. The portfolio of Japanese investment in the state has grown increasingly diverse. Beginning with customers in agriculture and food processing, the list of Japanese investors now includes companies in the biomedical, electric vehicle and aerospace sectors.
“Japan is a place that’s very close and dear to my heart. I have seen how our community thrived in Japan and Georgia and the fascinating ways in which many individuals came together to build something greater than them. The groundwork is there. Whether things get stormy or whether it’s smooth sailing, we stick with our companies and with our long-term relationships. None of that will change anytime soon,” Huntemann said.