JETRO organizes “Kentucky Business Tour” with Governor Matt Bevin’s Call

Apr 05, 2019

JETRO co-sponsored a "Kentucky Business Tour" held on January 25th with the Kentucky US-Japan Society (JASK) and Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Governor Matt Bevin called for the event, and 18 people from 15 companies and organizations participated in the tour to explore the business environment in the state.

Kentucky is a hub of manufacturing industries including automotives and steel. Japanese investments are particularly high in the state of Kentucky: According to a state government survey, about 200 Japanese companies, mainly in auto-related fields, are operating in Kentucky today. This is the largest number of foreign-affiliated companies for the state.

In this tour, the guests visited the Japanese manufacturing plants. The first stop was Toyota Kentucky, which is the world’s largest Toyota manufacturing facility. The factory is 8.1 million square feet (about 750,000 square meters), equivalent to 169 American football fields. The plant manufactures about 2,000 vehicles a day, including the company's leading models such as the Camry, and it is the only facility that manufactures Lexus outside of Japan. Toyota purchases components from more than 350 supplier locations in the States, with about 100 in the state of Kentucky.

Kentucky Toyota 1

(The tour participants at Toyota Kentucky)

The next stop was the Four Roses distillery owned by the Kirin Brewery Company. The bourbon produced at this site is one of Kentucky's major bourbon labels and has been exported to Japan and other countries for over 50 years. The final stop on the tour was Topy Industries' automobile wheel production plant. Topy America, INC. was founded in 1985, one year earlier than Toyota’s investment in Kentucky. Currently, with $36 million in capital investment, Topy America, INC. is working on introducing new production lines and cutting-edge technology.

At the end of the tour, the guests were invited to a JASK-sponsored New Year's party at the governor's residence. As a host, Governor Bevin, who had once studied abroad in Japan, welcomed the guests and remarked on the contribution of Japanese investments to Kentucky’s economy. He expressed the desire to strengthen Kentucky’s partnership with Japan. “I was able to see the production sites of major companies in the United States, and it helped me see the difference between the States and Japan," said one of the tour participants. Another participant praised the tour, offering the opportunity to connect with the state government.

Kentucky Toyota 2

(Governor Bevin and Mr. Hatakemaya, President of JETRO

New York, at JASK-sponsored New Year's party)