Having reaped the benefits from its proximity to the Mexican state of Sonora, Arizona has realized that it can compete with neighboring U.S. states in attracting more foreign investment and become a major economic center in the Southwest.
Arizona is moving beyond its traditional partners, Canada and Mexico, and is looking towards the Asia-Pacific region. So far, the state has convinced several foreign companies to set up here, among them Japan-based Iris, Sumitomo, Daicell and Daifuku.
“I wanted to create awareness for both businesses and government that foreign direct investment and cross-border investment can be a positive thing for our state,” said Doug Bruhnke founder of Global Chamber, a global community made up of more than 600 professionals, mentors and companies.
Bruhnke believes that Japan is an ideal partner as the country offers many opportunities for the United States in terms of FDI and export markets.
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), one of the Southwest USA’s leading economic development agencies, has identified the various opportunities in those industries within the region.
GPEC President and CEO Chris Camacho said foreign investors will enjoy “white-glove treatment” in Phoenix, unlike in some of the states. The group is aggressively working on attracting more foreign investment, which accounted for less than 1% of economic growth in 2006.
“A lot of the Asian industrials naturally think of L.A. and San Francisco for cultural and economic reasons. But this market is unique. But speed to market for foreign investors has been very critical in this region,” Camacho pointed out.
Meanwhile, John Sachen established Sachen Business Services to provide his expertise on Japan to clients in Arizona wanting to do business with Japanese companies and potential Japanese investors wanting to set up operations in the state.
“I would like to see more inbound Japanese clients. I wouldn’t consider myself a greenhorn anymore with my background with Japan. In the next three years, I want to continue the momentum and help establish myself when Japanese operate businesses here,” said Sachen, whose 20 years in Japan as a senior executive earned him the nickname “the Japanese guy with American face.
Hochoong Lee, the president of Teikoku Taping System, selected Arizona for its American operations four years ago for practical reasons.
“I chose Arizona, as we decided to do R&D. The expenses are not too demanding and the transportation is logistically sound,” Lee said.
The company designs, develops, manufactures and sells semiconductor machinery. To remain at the top of the game, Lee believes that his company must focus on innovation and its competitiveness in the region.