In October, Shelbyville celebrated its 30-year sister city relationship with Shizuoka, Japan – a model for how cross-cultural exchange can lead to economic growth and development. Since the partnership launched in 1989, Shelby County has become home to 14 Japanese companies that employ 2,500 people.
“Shelbyville really paved the way for Japanese investment in the state of Indiana,” noted Naoki Ito, the Consulate-General of Japan based in Chicago, Illinois. “Now, across Indiana there are almost 300 companies providing 65,000 jobs – and that started with the great success story in Shelbyville.”
The relationship began as an economic development program with Sheller-Globe (now Ryobi). It is sustained through the collaboration of Shelbyville and Shelby County International Relations Committee. Beyond business, the partnership includes annual delegation exchanges, the growth of a Japanese curriculum at Shelbyville High School and annual residency of a Japanese teacher from Shizuoka, and student trips to Japan.
Most recently, these relationships have paved the way for both Nippon Steel & Sumikin Cold Heading Wire Indiana (NSCI) and Kimura Foundry America, Inc. to expand into the region.
NSCI opened a steel factory in Shelbyville on July 18 that will produce rolled steel products for the automotive industry. This facility represents a $50 million capital investment, which is expected to create up to 70 new jobs by 2021. The company has already hired 37 full-time associates in Indiana. This project marks the sixth investment of NSCI’s parent company in the Indiana region.
Kimura Foundry America, Inc. held a Grand Opening Ceremony on November 7, 2018, one year after its groundbreaking ceremony. Dr. Yoya Fukuda, president of Kimura Foundry America, emphasized the importance of Indiana being strategically placed at the “epicenter of the industries [they] serve”. The sister-city relationship particularly aided in the selection process of Shelby County being Kimura’s first U.S. venture. Kimura Foundry America is committed in developing and refining its casting technology to manufacture products including stamping die casting and machine and industrial tool castings.
“We will continue to visit our friends in Shizuoka City,” said Brian Asher, executive director of the Shelby County Development Corporation (SCDC). “They feel more like family, and we encourage the next generation to keep this incredible bond going between our two great cities.”
The SCDC sees increasing momentum from the relationship with Shizuoka. Moving forward, the SCDC and others are continuing to build upon these collaborations to advance Shelby County.