Posted on: Wednesday - May 18, 2016

Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd concluded their economic development trip to Asia last week. The trip focused on building relationships both with companies who are already invested in Tennessee and those looking to start operations in the United States.

“Last year alone, foreign direct investments totaled $2.25 billion in capital and created more than 7,800 new jobs. This is an excellent opportunity to take the ‘Tennessee Story’ abroad and promote all of the great things that our state has to offer,” Haslam said. “We’re a low-tax, low-debt, strategically located state that is the first in the nation to offer high school graduates last dollar scholarships to attend community or technical college free of tuition and fees. I look forward to building upon our existing business partnerships and forming new ones that can be mutually beneficial.” 

During the trip, Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd along with the TNECD team visited three countries, Korea, China and Japan, and eight cities in the span of 10 days.

The first stop was South Korea. Korean investment in Tennessee is on the rise with over 10 Korean-based establishments investing more than $900 million in the state and employing 1,500 Tennesseans.

Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd co-hosted a reception in Seoul to promote relations with Korean companies and government officials. TNECD’s new FDI representative, Heejung Shin, was introduced during the reception, and Gov. Haslam spoke about the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding concerning Korean and Tennessee driver’s licenses. The reception had over 70 attendees including Marc Knapper, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and Seung Hwa Suh, Vice Chairman and Global CEO of Hankook Tire. The governor and commissioner also had a chance to meet with soldiers from Tennessee who are currently serving in Korea during the reception.

The next stop on the trip was China which was Gov. Haslam’s first official visit to the country as governor. During the trip, he and Commissioner Boyd visited Zhejiang Province where they met with Governor Li Qiang and toured DunAn Environmental. Zhejiang’s business environment is steadily growing, which was highlighted by Commissioner Boyd. 

"With two million private enterprises in Zhejiang Province, there is tremendous potential for investment in Tennessee," Boyd said. "Many are looking to invest in the United States, and we want to make sure Tennessee is always their first choice."

Also while in China they visited Shanghai. Shanghai is the largest city in China by population with more than 24 million residents. An important economic, financial, trade and shipping center in China, Shanghai’s gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded 2.35 trillion yuan ($384 billion) in 2014.

Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd attended meetings throughout their visit to Shanghai including a visit with Shanghai Mayor Xiong Yang. The trip also included a Tennessee investment seminar co-hosted by TNECD and the Shanghai Department of Commerce.

Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd also hosted a dinner for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) officials. SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (informally SAIC, formerly Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) is a Chinese state-owned automotive design and manufacturing company headquartered in Shanghai with multinational operations. SAIC also has multiple production facilities in China, and branches in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

To conclude their trip in China, Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd stopped at Sinomax where they met with company leadership and toured the showroom. Sinomax, a leading foam products manufacturer and distributor, announced last year its plans to invest $28 million and create 350 jobs in La Vergne, representing the largest jobs commitment made by a Chinese-owned company in Tennessee's history.

The economic development trip concluded in Japan. Japan is Tennessee’s largest foreign investor nation, representing over 50 percent of all foreign direct investment in the state. With 183 Japanese-owned businesses in Tennessee, Japan has invested $17.7 billion in the state’s economy, employing nearly 50,000 Tennesseans.  

Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd met with members of Keidanren, Japan's leading business federation, while in Tokyo. In attendance were Kunio Ishihara and Haruo Murase, co-chairs of the committee on U.S. affairs. 

In addition to the Keidanren meeting, Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner Boyd visited with Bridgestone CEO Masaaki Tsuya as well as Chairman Kuniyuki Watanabe of Kasai. They also met with Nippon Steel & Sumikin Materials, Pacific Industries and Sumitomo Riko/DTR.

To conclude the trip to Japan, Gov. Haslam and Commissioner Boyd along with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) co-hosted an investment seminar in Tokyo focused on Tennessee’s business advantages. Nissan and Nippon Steel and Sumikin Materials gave testimonials on doing business in Tennessee to more than 200 business leaders.

The team accomplished many great things while in Asia and upon his return, Commissioner Boyd expressed his gratitude and reflected on his time overseas with Gov. Haslam.

"It was my great honor to tour Korea, China and Japan with the Governor. We covered 3 countries and 8 cities in 10 days, so it was exhausting at times. However, sharing the Tennessee story with over 200 companies was energizing and rewarding,” Boyd said. “One of the best parts of the story that I always got to tell was that our state is led by a Governor that is a businessman and understands business. We speak the language of business. Our Governor talks often about how our state is really a 33,000-person customer service organization serving both the people and the businesses of the state. This message always resonated with our audiences. We are fortunate to have him leading our state and my team was fortunate to have him out shaking hands and sharing the Tennessee story.”

To see more photos from the Governor and Commissioner’ trip to Asia, check out our Flickr page here.