BDC director prepares for another trip to Japan to showcase local properties
It will be Pat Ford’s third trip to Japan to convince prospective businesses to invest in the region.
The first 4 days of the 8-day trip will be spent with businesses that have already set up shop in West Virginia.
“What I’ve learned that’s particularly unique with industries in Japan is the importance of relationships,” Ford said.
The business culture in the land of the rising sun is about respect. And with $2.05 billion in Japanese investment in W.Va., that respect has been earned. It all started 31 years ago with Wheeling-Nisshin opening in Follansbee. Continuing the dialogue so important to the Mountain State, there’s a permanent state office in Japan.
“When you really look at why we have an office there is that right now there are some 3,500 West Virginians that are employed by Japanese Companies,” Ford said.
The latter half of the trip, Ford plans to meet with new prospects that are compatible with the region’s history.
“Aeronautics, automotive and metal fabricators,” he said.
On the continual dialogue front, the trips have been a success. But the hope for concrete deals is even better this time around.
“When you go on these trips you got have something to sell,” Ford said. “And the past 2 years, we didn’t really have sexy, large sites for some of these industries to really take a could look at.”
It’s BDC-owned real estate Ford’s pitching.
“We are going there with a full portfolio of properties,” he said.
Like the former Newell porcelain site just cleared for renovation, the former Follansbee Steel site, and the Beech Bottom industrial park. They have unique characteristics that Ford hopes Japanese investors and entrepreneurs champ at the bit to grab up and put down property.
“Rail access, river access, highway access and all within minutes of Pittsburgh International Airport, so we are armed ring ready to market the sites to companies in Japan.”
Ford leaves for his trip on Thursday.