Japanese investment conference features Sidney mayor

SIDNEY — Mayor Mike Barhorst recently participated in a four-day 2021 SelectUSA Investment Summit.

At the invitation of Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) Chicago office’s Chief Executive Officer Ralph Inforzato, Barhorst was one of the presenters at the 2021 SelectUSA Investment Summit, said a city of Sidney press release. This year’s summit was held virtually in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of vaccine availability in Japan.

Barhorst was one of the presenters at a session entitled Japan Investment Dynamic in the United States. In addition to Barhorst and Inforzato, JETRO Tokyo Executive Vice President Ichiro Sone, JETRO New York Executive Vice President Kenichi Kawamoto, Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler, and Toray Plastics President Michael Brandmeier were also part of the presentation.

The four-day event has included presentations from representatives of all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Governor Mike DeWine spoke prior to the presentation featuring Barhorst.

Japan is the leading foreign investor in the United States. Advanced Composites, NK Parts, Stolle Machinery, Hexa-Americas, Sanyo America and Honda are all Japanese owned companies doing business in the Sidney area.

JETRO is a government-sponsored organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Originally established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports abroad, JETRO’s core focus in the 21st Century has shifted toward promoting foreign direct investment into Japan and helping small to medium size Japanese firms maximize their global export potential.

“Japan is the leading foreign investor in the United States,” Barhorst said in the release. “In survey’s that were conducted prior to the pandemic, 39% of Japanese companies indicated that they planned to expand operations in the United States.”

“I have developed a good working relationship with Ralph (Inforzato) and Kiko (Kikuko Ono Hanashiro),” Barhorst continued. “In fact, both of them were in Sidney and toasted the community’s founding on Sidney’s official birth-date (Feb. 12, 2020,) just prior to the pandemic. Although Kiko has since moved back to Japan, I expect that I’ll have the opportunity to work with both of them in the future”