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AFL: The world's leading connector

Feb 22, 2019
Credit : GMI Post

AFL began as a joint venture between Tokyo-based Fujikura Ltd. and the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) in 1984 to manufacture fiber optic ground wires for U.S. utility companies from its base in Duncan, South Carolina.

AFL CEO Jody Gallagher

With the steady growth that came through the diversification of its products and services over two decades, Fujikura acquired full ownership of the company in 2005.

Having just marked its 34th anniversary, AFL boasts a clientele that includes the country’s largest companies in the telecommunication, energy and enterprise sectors. Today, North America accounts for 70 percent of AFL’s business.

“AFL has developed a unique structure by combining the best parts of both Japanese and American business cultures. Now as a member of the board, I’m honored to be granted another opportunity in contributing to Fujikura’s success,” said President and CEO Jody Gallagher, who has been with the company since the start and is the first non-Japanese board member of Fujikura.

AFL Vice Chairman Satoru Ogawa underscored the importance of the company’s activities to Fujikura’s long-term future and expressed Gallagher’s ability to make that valuable contribution.

“Fujikura’s international presence is essential to the company’s growth. Our trust in Jody’s

leadership shows how important these markets are to us,” Ogawa said. To ensure its long term success, AFL is committed to providing innovative product solutions coupled with exceptional customer service and support.

Charleston: Perfectly positioned for global business

Feb 22, 2019
Credit : GMI Post

Named the best city in the United States and Canada by “Travel + Leisure” magazine, Charleston in South Carolina is a popular destination for foreign investment. With more than 180 multinational firms operating in the region, the community currently ranks ninth among U.S. metro areas for foreign direct investment.

One of the factors attracting these investors is Charleston’s strategic location. The metro region is home to both South Carolina’s busiest airport (Charleston International) and North America’s most productive and efficient seaport.

“We’re halfway between New York and Miami. One-third of the U.S. population resides within 500 miles of Charleston. This provides great access to the entire Southeastern U.S., which is critical for our aerospace, automotive and logistics sectors,” said Michael Graney, Charleston Regional Development Alliance vice president of Business Development.

While South Carolina is becoming an increasingly popular location for Japanese investment, several companies such as Showa Denko Carbon, Sun Chemical, Ricoh, Shimano, and TBC Corporation have already well-established roots in Charleston. In fact, Japan is among the top five trading partners of the region, which excels in the aerospace, automotive, information technology and life sciences sectors.

To further accommodate Japanese investors and executives in the region, Charleston has implemented a Global Fluency Initiative to better serve the growing Japanese community.

“We launched a specific welcoming guide — — for our international residents so that they have a better understanding of the resources available to them here in Charleston. We want to connect with our Japanese community and make them feel at home,” said Graney.

Bridgestone finds a home in South Carolina

Feb 22, 2019
Credit : GMI Post

Because of its pro-business policies and growing workforce, many investors have chosen to set up operations in the Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda Region of South Carolina, located only a two-hour drive away from major cities, like Charleston, Atlanta and Charlotte.

The region’s largest foreign investors have come from Japan, among them automotive parts makers Aiken Precision Technologies and Newman Technologies. But the area’s flagship investment has to be Bridgestone Tires, which opened its first production facility in Aiken County in 1997.

Sage Mill Industrial Park in Aiken County

In 2011, Bridgestone expanded its facility by an additional 470,000 square feet to meet the rising demand for passenger car and light truck radial tires. Then, in September 2011, the Japanese giant announced the construction of a new 1.5 million-square-foot plant in Aiken to produce its off-road tires.

Bridgestone’s two projects have a total value of $2.2 billion, the largest capital investment made by a single company in the history of South Carolina. Having marked more than two decades of operations in the region, the company received a citation from the Economic Development Partnership for its contributions to the community.

“Every Bridgestone plant manager was awarded Ambassador for Economic Development by the SC State Department for Commerce,” Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Will Williams said.

Last year, the two Bridgestone plants were accepted into the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program because of efforts to expand their recycling, conservation and community support programs.

“Our Japanese companies have been a great addition to our local community. We’re very grateful of their presence,” said Williams, who is working to attract more Japanese companies to the burgeoning region.

“Rest assured that the same level of care and service we have given to our present Japanese tenants will be accorded to future Japanese investors,” he added.

Fujifilm, Teijin find a home in Greenwood, South Carolina

Feb 22, 2019
Credit : GMI Post

Having persuaded two large Japanese multinationals to establish operations in the community, Greenwood County in South Carolina has strengthened its case as an ideal investment location, whether they be from Japan or elsewhere.

Generating over $1.14 billion worth of investment and 1,142 jobs since 2013, Greenwood County provides investors with abundant water supply, ample building sites and good infrastructure.

Teijin Limited breaks ground on its new facility in June 2018.

“Our business-friendly environment and high utility capacities have been instrumental in attracting large international companies,” Greenwood Partnership Alliance CEO Heather Jones said.

Since moving to Greenwood County in 1988, Fujifilm Manufacturing USA has spent a total of $2 billion to improve its operations. Moreover, in time to mark its 30th anniversary this year, the Japanese affiliate announced a new $3.9 million expansion of its local facility.

Fujifilm’s presence in Greenwood County has spurred the steady growth of the community, which influenced another Japanese company, Teijin Carbon Fibers, to build a new $600 million carbon fiber production facility. This was the largest single investment in South Carolina in 2016.

“We are very appreciative of the positive impact Fujifilm and Teijin have on the community. Greenwood is happy to be their home, and we are dedicated to supporting them as they continue to grow their U.S. operations in the future,” Jones said.

Southeastern USA 2019 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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