Frankfort, KY: Armed with new legislation making Kentucky more business-friendly than ever, Governor Ernie Fletcher will join officials from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, University of Kentucky and Georgetown College in courting leaders from around the world next month during World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan.
Governor Fletcher will address the opening ceremonies to mark the start of “Kentucky Week” at noon on May 16 (Aichi time) in front of the Expo’s U.S. Pavilion. A Japanese bluegrass band will perform, while representatives of the Tahara Kite Preservation Society – from Georgetown, Ky.’s sister city of Tahara, Japan – will demonstrate their kite expertise.
Throughout the duration of the Expo, potential Kentucky tourists visiting the public part of the U.S. Pavilion will experience some of the commonwealth’s allure through a continuously looping video. Meanwhile, VIPs and journalists invited to a series of events during Kentucky Week, May 16-22, in the pavilion’s exclusive Franklin Room will have the opportunity for direct contact with the Governor, New Business Development Commissioner John McCarty, Tourism Commissioner Randy Fiveash and top officials of the University of Kentucky and Georgetown College.
“We’re pleased with the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Pavilion at World Expo 2005,” Governor Fletcher said. “It represents an unprecedented opportunity to showcase our unbridled spirit to the world. We’ll have a chance to reach out to world leaders, Japanese business executives, international tour operators, local officials, educators, students, and others.”
Governor Fletcher said the recent passage of his tax-modernization bill, Jobs and Opportunity Bipartisan Solution (JOBS), will be welcome news to corporate executives considering expanding or relocating to Kentucky. “The provisions of the JOBS for Kentucky plan, such as eliminating the license tax and intangibles tax, reducing the corporate income tax, and offering incentives for environmentally friendly companies, will be very attractive to corporate executives at the Expo who might be considering a new Kentucky home,” he said.
Now home to 344 international companies representing a workforce of more than 70,000 people, Kentucky has embraced the global business climate. Of those 344 international companies, 138 represent Japanese businesses with U.S. subsidiaries and employ 35,452 Kentucky workers. Japan is the world’s second-largest market, as well as the second-largest importer of Kentucky goods, with exports exceeding $919 million. Japan's foreign direct investment in property, plants, and equipment (non-bank) exceeded $8.5 billion in the Commonwealth as of 2002. Japan is first among all countries in foreign direct investment in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s longstanding relationship with Japan has resulted in tremendous economic development success. Success stories like the Toyota manufacturing plant in Georgetown and the headquarters for Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. in Erlanger have spurred the continued growth of Kentucky’s Japanese companies.
“Toyota has found that Kentucky is a great place to do business. We know it, and now the world is about to find out about it,” said Gary Convis, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky and Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America.
In recent years, Kentucky has seen increased leisure travel by the Japanese as a compliment to business travel. More than 2 million Japanese travelers visited the United States last year. As of 2003, tourism employed more than 162,000 people, making it the state’s third largest industry and second leading employer.
Kentucky is one of 18 states participating in the U.S. Pavilion and one of only two at the global sponsorship level. Also joining the Kentucky delegation are its six community sponsors: Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce; Commerce Lexington; Greater Louisville Inc.; Hopkinsville/Christian Co. Economic Development Council; Murray-Calloway Co. Economic Development Corp.; and Northern Kentucky Tri-ED. In addition, Lexmark International and Fifth Third Bank will take part as Kentucky’s corporate sponsors. Lexmark is the printing partner of the U.S. Pavilion.
World Expo 2005, which opened March 25 and runs through Sept. 25, is the first world’s fair of the 21st Century. An estimated 15 million visitors are expected to visit the Expo overall, while the United States, one of more than 120 participating countries, expects at least 1.75 million visitors to its 22,230-square-foot pavilion.
Kentucky has yet another connection to this year’s world’s fair – the person appointed by President Bush to lead the U.S. Pavilion as its Ambassador and Commissioner General, Lisa Guillermin Gable. She is the wife of James Gable, son of Robert and Emily Gable of Frankfort. She and her husband reside in Upperville, Va., with their daughter.