October 06, 2014

Giving them a warm welcome | Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Today, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin welcomed 46 senior business executives from Japan to the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport during part of the executives’ 10-day nationwide tour.
But there’s a reason the executives decided to stop in West Virginia. The relationship between Japan and West Virginia was started many years ago thanks to Sen. Rockefeller, who said Japan was a passion of both his mother and father’s, who visited Japan each year for the last 30 years of their lives.

When Rockefeller became governor of West Virginia, he developed a desire for the state to have a close relationship with Japan. He insisted working with Nagoya, Japan, because that’s where business was taking place.

He knew the task wouldn’t be easy, but Rockefeller refused to back down from a challenge.

In 1989, a trade office began between Japan and West Virginia, and ever since then the relationship has been beneficial to both West Virginia and Japan’s economies.
There are 20 Japanese companies in West Virginia that support 2,500 employees. Perhaps the most well-known company that has come to West Virginia through this partnership is Toyota Motor Manufacturing, which came to West Virginia in 1996 when it built its main headquarters in Buffalo.


By:  Angelee Wiley