guest view: Gov. Bill Haslam

Earlier this month, Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and I made a 10-day, eight-city trip to Japan, Korea and China to build on the great business success Tennessee already enjoys with our partners in those countries.

I was more encouraged than ever on this trip that people see the United States as a strong place to invest and that Tennessee’s reputation is gaining on the international front because of the relationships we have with Asian companies like Nissan, Hankook and Bridgestone.

Among the highlights of our trip, we co-hosted an investment seminar in Tokyo with the Japan External Trade Organization; attended meetings in Shanghai, China, including one with Shanghai Mayor Xiong Yang; toured the headquarters in Dongguan of Wonderful Group, which has made its first

U.S. investment in Lebanon, Tennessee; visited Zejian, China, where we met with the governor of Zejian Province, Li Qiang; visited Sinomax, a Chinese company that is investing $28 million in La Vergne; and co-hosted a reception in Seoul, South Korea, to promote relations with Korean companies and government officials.

We had a chance to meet with or address executives from over 250 companies in those 10 days. Our goal is to build on the 216 Asian companies that already have a presence in Tennessee.

Like everything else, the best advertising you can get is an existing customer telling people about you, and we were able to take advantage of that in Asia. Over the years, just from those three countries, we have a combined investment of over $20 billion.

One of the biggest advantages we have in Tennessee has always been where we sit on the map. With the work we have been doing in education and developing our workforce, those things work to our advantage.

Thirty-three years ago, then-Gov. Lamar Alexander talked to Nissan about coming to Tennessee. The Japanese auto manufacturer built its plant in Smyrna, and we have benefited from Asian business ties ever since.

This was a successful trip, and we look forward to many more years of great business ties with our partners in Asia.