Columbus officials joining governor on Japan trade trip

Two Columbus officials will join a governor-led delegation of business and economic development leaders on a trade mission to Japan next month, and they also will make a separate trip to China for meetings with prospective companies.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop and Jason Hester, president of the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp., will join Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in Japan in early September on a trip that the governor said in a statement Monday is to strengthen relationships and encourage continued investment and trade.

More than 280 Japanese businesses operate in Indiana and the state’s relationship with Japan “is crucial to our economy,” Holcomb said.

Columbus is home to 26 companies that have their headquarters in Japan.

The governor will leave Indiana on Sept. 7 and return Sept. 15, but Hester and Lienhoop will leave for Japan Sept. 8, Hester said, because both will be at the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp.’s annual meeting on Sept. 7.

Holcomb and the Indiana delegation will travel to Tokyo, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture. The governor plans to meet with Japanese government officials, national business chambers and executives of Japanese companies with operations in Indiana, including Subaru, Toyota and Honda.

Holcomb, Hester and Lienhoop also will participate in the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference, an annual meeting involving government representatives from 10 Midwest states and Japan.

Hester said he and Lienhoop will continue to build relationships with companies that already operate in Japan, and meet with prospective companies about investing in Columbus.

“We will meet with some of our larger Japanese employers and we’ll meet with as many companies as attend the two receptions,” Hester said.

One reception is in Tokyo and the other is in Nagoya, Hester said.

Separate meetings also are planned between the Columbus officials and representatives of Japanese companies, Hester said.

After concluding business in Japan, Hester and Lienhoop will travel to China for a series of meetings almost entirely with prospective companies, Hester said.

One of the stops will be in Huzhou, a sister city of Columbus, which is located in Zhejiang Province, a sister state of Indiana. The Columbus delegation also will visit Anhui Province and conclude business in Beijing, Hester said.

Included in the China schedule is a visit to a facility of Columbus-based diesel engine maker and power-generation company Cummins Inc., Hester said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.