Some things never change


The Tribune

On May 16, 1986, Indiana Lt. Gov. John Mutz made an announcement at Seymour Farmers Club that still echoes throughout this community.

Mutz announced Aisin U.S.A.’s plans to spend $15 to $17 million to build a plant to supply auto parts to a new Toyota automobile plant located in Kentucky. The Aisin plant was to built on 70 acres and would be the first tenant in the East Side Industrial Park.

The company had originally considered 25 sites in three states before settling on Seymour because in the words of one company official, Takashi Sugimoto, Seymour provided the best combination of location, transportation, community reception and state participation. Sugimoto was managing director and general manager of the national division of Aisin Seiki Co., Aisin U.S.A.’s parent company.

Fast forward 32 years, and the some of the same good things are still being said about our city, Jackson County and the state to Japanese companies.

This time the words, however, came from the Naoki Ito, the consul-general of Japan in Chicago, during his recent Grassroots Caravan visit to Seymour. He brought along the newly appointed Japanese ambassador, Shenzui Sugiyama, to show him Seymour Tubing, another Japanese firm located in the East Side Industrial Park.

Ito said there is no secret behind the success of the eight Japanese companies who have invested millions in Jackson County over the past three decades and have provided about 2,700 jobs.

“Behind the success there has been close cooperation between the state government, the Indiana Economic Development Commission, the regional development corporation and local cities,” he said.

Ito thanked everyone involved with providing a great investment climate.

“We have strong momentum going forward,” Ito said.

Indiana’s is the only Midwest state to have a memorandum of understanding to deepen its ties with its largest foreign investor. One of the key areas laid out in that document is workforce development, Ito said.

“Jackson County is a front runner,” Ito said when it comes to the work of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and Jim Plump in area of workforce development.

JCIDC created The Workforce Partnership with a goal to bring industry, schools, local elected officials and economic development leaders together to make the county’s employers more competitive.

Members of the partnership today include 19 manufacturing companies, Schneck Medical Center.Community Foundation of Jackson County, the city of Seymour, Brownstown Central Community School Corp., Columbus Education Coalition and the Jackson County Visitor Center.

School projects and other programs include educator internships, job shadowing, senior mock interviews, Industry-to-School Days, Engineering Week, the Maverick Challenge, Project Led the Way, Owl Manufacturing, Jobs for America’s Graduartes and iGrad.

Ito said the Chicago consulate’s office covers 10 states, but Indiana is one of the more important ones in terms of Japanese investment.

And by the way, Hoosiers including those in Seymour and Jackson County also have something else in their favor — work ethic, Ito said.

“It is very similar to the Japanese,” he said. “That is a very strong point.”

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