Local leaders headed to Japan to talk economics and development

David Kell (left), executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and Madison County Future Inc., and London Mayor Patrick Closser stand outside the Stanley Electric Co. Ltd. headquarters in Japan. The visit was part of a trip they and dozens of other central Ohio government and business leaders made to Japan in 2016. They and several other Madison County representatives will return to Japan in September.

(Posted July 31, 2019)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Madison County officials soon will wing their way to the land of sushi, samurai and sumo on a Sept. 4-12 trip to Tokyo. The trip will include a three-day conference focusing on the growth and progress of economic relations between the American Midwest and Japan.

London Mayor Pat Closser, West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin, Madison County Chamber of Commerce representatives Steve Lelonek and David Kell, and Madison County Administrator Rob Slane are among more than 60 central Ohio and state representatives who are making the journey. In addition to the conference, they will visit the headquarters of local companies based in Japan.

“We will be looking to do some business development meetings with potential companies who may be looking to expand or move into central Ohio,” said Closser, who went on a similar trip in 2016 in conjunction with Columbus 2020, the Madison County Chamber and Madison County Future Inc.

While in Japan, Closser said he will meet with representatives of a local business based in London and hopes to set up business development meetings with other companies while he is there.

“The trip is very important to maintain the strong relationships we have with our local businesses while continuing to grow them,” Closser said. “It is also a great way to do business development and show a global market what London and Madison County has to offer a company if they look to invest in our community.

“The education and contacts that will be made at the conference are immeasurable. London and Madison County are growing, and we need to be on the forefront of development. We need to bring in strong businesses that will bring great jobs with it, as well as strengthening the relationships we already have with our local businesses.”

This is Martin’s first trip to Japan. He said he is looking forward to the conference and meeting with Japanese parent companies operating sites in West Jefferson.

“I’m hoping to attract more business, along with strengthening the ones already here,” Martin said.

The trip is Kell’s second trip to Japan, who last attended the Midwest U.S.- Japan Association Annual conference in 2016 with local, regional and state leaders.

While the county contingent will be visiting companies in Tokyo during the 51st conference, other groups and individuals will travel to different areas of the country based on their own focuses.

“Madison County and our communities are growing with population, investment and new jobs,” said Kell, executive director of the chamber and Madison County Future Inc. “It is important for our local leaders to build on the momentum we have by participating in activities that will give us opportunities to attract additional investment and job growth into our communities.

“The conference and meetings will give us a chance to show a global market what Madison County and its communities have to offer a company if they choose to invest in our community and the Columbus region.”

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