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Japanese culture takes center stage for businesses expanding in Georgia

By Chris Carr

As a global leader in the marketplace, the U.S. state of Georgia stands out as an ideal location for Japanese business activity because of our partnership approach to economic development. From state, local, international, educational institutions and beyond, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) has dedicated a substantial amount of resources over many years to create cultural touch points that are unique and attractive to Japanese companies in search of a potential relocation destination in the United States.

Given the significant emphasis on culture in Japanese society, the state of Georgia recognizes the need to honor that for Japanese nationals who find themselves relocating as their companies expand within America.

Georgia is now ranked as the 11th-largest exporting state in the U.S., and Japan is one of Georgia’s leading business partners. Japanese companies have been impactful in a variety of industry sectors in Georgia, and we are proud to have a strong relationship in the Japanese market with roots that date back 40 years when we established our first economic development institution in Tokyo.

Today, there are more than 400 Japanese facilities within the state, employing more than 24,500 Georgians, and we have at least 42 companies with operations in Japan. Our relationship with Japan is strong in part because we understand the importance of creating an environment that helps companies to make their employees feel at home. This is particularly true when those employees are uprooting their families from halfway across the world.

Having organizations such as the Japan-America Society of Georgia, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) as well as the Consulate-General of Japan in Georgia provide even more support for Japanese businesses that locate or expand in Georgia, creating networks of Japanese vendors and establishments to provide support to companies and their employees in the areas of construction, insurance, staffing and law needs.

As a department, we want to ensure that our business, tourism and trade relationships with Japan are as strong as possible, but we also work hard to cultivate an environment that breeds rich cultural exchange. Last year, more than 18,500 people attended the 2014 JapanFest in Atlanta, making the annual celebration one of the largest Japanese festivals in the U.S. Our study abroad programs to Japan, social exchanges and 10 sister city agreements also open lines of communication which ultimately lead to progress.

Our cultural commitment to Japanese nationals also features several offerings in the educational, medical and financial sectors. At the forefront of these options is The Seigakuin Atlanta International School (SAINTS) located in Atlanta. SAINTS is the only Japanese Ministry of Education-accredited elementary Japanese/English dual immersion school in the Southeast United States. Georgia also boasts a broad network of Japanese doctors who accept Japanese medical insurance, and we are home to an array of Japanese banks that allow for easy financial transactions with a familiar institution. All these offerings and more help make it easier to adapt to life on unfamiliar foreign soil.

Even factors outside of business and culture pit Georgia as a desirable location for Japanese businesses. Georgia is home to the busiest airport in the country (Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport), features a climate very comparable to Japan’s, ranks 13th in the U.S. with 523 golf courses and is home to the largest cherry blossom collection in the continental U.S.

At the forefront of our leadership, Governor Nathan Deal understands the significance of the longstanding relationship between Georgia and Japan. In 2013, Governor Deal led a business, trade and tourism delegation to Japan. And in order to strengthen his charge, our department again led a delegation to Osaka and Tokyo in September 2015—which included government officials, utility and statewide economic development partners and business leaders who had fantastic meetings and cultural experiences that will lead to positive business and cultural developments.

We are all ambassadors for economic development, and our goal at the Department is to provide the resources to support the creation of new jobs and investment opportunities for all. Our international representative in Japan can provide key in-country contacts, market opportunities, industry insight and more. If you are looking for a home for your business, or even your next vacation getaway, we urge you to keep Georgia on your mind.

The writer is Commissioner of Economic Development, Georgia Department of Economic Development.

© Japan Today

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Cool to read.

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I live in Georgia and have worked with a Japanese company who were our clients. We'd take turns traveling to each others' locations. Atlanta's climate is similar to Tokyo's, though some of our more severe thunderstorms can be scary to a visitor.

No earthquakes here. Well ... not entirely true, but someone from Japan wouldn't "feel" the one we have every 50 yrs. We do have tornadoes, but not enough to worry too much, plus The Weather Channel is here, so you'll have almost an exact path and plenty of warning to get out of the way or take cover.

The hardest part of the travel for our Tokyo-based friends was that our offices weren't anywhere near MARTA (the subway system in Atlanta), so finding a taxi was always necessary and out in the suburbs, taxis really only work if called. Plus the different foods, though we do have excellent Japanese restaurants, they are on the expensive-side. I understand that after a week in a foreign country, normal people really do miss the comfort foods from home.

For companies located walking distance from a MARTA station, I think most Japanese visitors wouldn't have too many issues, provided they avoided the not-so-nice parts of Atlanta. Most places are safe and love visitors. Plus we have a great work life/home life split. Not too hot nor too cold. Snow happen 1-2 days a year and is usually light, though it will shutdown the entire city. ;)

I don't golf, but we have some great bowling and go-kart racing! Plus DragonCon if you are into that sort of thing along with 60K other people. There is always something to do every day of the week here.

Come on down and let me fix ya'll some grits or BBQ. Everyone likes BBQ, right?

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Nice info.

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