By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT
Just back from trade missions to Japan and India and heading to Germany, Governor Mark Warner is criss-crossing the globe to drum up foreign direct investment for Virginia.
His efforts should have a big impact on trade opportunities for the Commonwealth. While in Osaka, the Governor announced that Koyo Steering Systems of USA, Inc. will invest $36 million to expand its Botetourt County facility in the Roanoke Valley. “Geographically, Virginia has proven to be ideal for our use of Norfolk’s port for the importing of our assembly components and we take advantage of Virginia’s excellent highway system to transport our finished products to our customers,” says Botetourt County Plant Manager John Goetz.
Koyo Steering Systems of USA, Inc. is a US subsidiary of Koyo Seiko Co., Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, which manufactures steering systems, bearings, automobile components and mechatronics. It has facilities in Japan, Asia, Europe and South America, with US operations in South Carolina and Tennessee.
A plus is the fact that Governor Warner is the first US governor to personally call on India and the first governor in the last three years to visit this booming country. His goal: to make a major impact.
“We took 65 delegates, the largest group ever to India,” he says.
In comparison, last year some 30 governors led trade delegations to China—Governor Warner being one of them. The state is interested in increasing business there as well. Last year, the Henrico County Economic Development Authority, one of the county’s close to the Port of Virginia, opened an office in Shanghai, China to recruit Chinese companies and encourage partnerships between Chinese firms and Henrico businesses. Most counties cannot afford to open trade offices overseas.
But Governor Warner has his sites set on India.
“No one is looking at India as an opportunity for both selling product and getting foreign direct investment back into the United States,” he says. “I keep trying to make the point that just as 30 years ago the Japanese auto manufacturers decided to build plants in the United States for political and business reasons, we are getting close to that same tipping point with Indian IT and business product companies as they continue to expand. They need to look at becoming global companies with operations in the United States.”
His work is paying off. While in Mumbai, the Governor announced that Essel Propack America, LLC, an India-based specialty packaging company, will invest $15 million to expand its Danville manufacturing facility.
“This company is owned by one of the larger Indian conglomerates,” Governor Warner remarks. “Getting them to put a toe in Virginia has a great ripple affect.”
In New Dehli the Governor was able to announce that American Hofmann Corp., a Lynchburg-based manufacturer of balancing machines and systems, has made a $350,000 deal with Indian Airlines to provide precision dynamic balancing equipment for the government-owned domestic carrier in India. Indian Airlines operates a fleet of 60 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
Meanwhile, Governor Warner continues to court European foreign direct investment. His big wins include the $450 million Maersk Terminal at the Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads by A.P. Moller - Maersk Group of Denmark and a $265 million expansion in Petersburg by Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals, Inc. of Germany.