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Lt. Gov. Sheehy to Celebrate Opening of Foreign Trade Office during Trade Mission to Japan (November

(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman joined Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy today in previewing the state's upcoming trade mission to Japan. The Lt. Governor will lead a delegation of 28 business and agriculture representatives, economic development officials and state officials on the visit to Japan departing Sunday, Nov. 26 and returning Saturday, Dec. 2.

The visit will include visits to Kobe, Shizuoka and will conclude in Tokyo with the official opening of Nebraska's first international business office, known as the Nebraska Center. The Lt. Governor will host an opening reception at the Nebraska Center on Friday, Dec. 1.

"This first-of-its-kind office for our state will help us to work more closely with Japanese companies on business investment and economic development efforts both here at home and abroad," Gov. Heineman said. "In Japan and across the Pacific Rim, we must work to establish and broaden our reputation as a valuable trading partner, and this office will serve as a hub of business activity for Nebraska."

The Nebraska delegation will focus on helping private sector companies secure more sales; introducing medical representatives to partners for research, technology transfers and future patient referrals; and providing state and regional economic development specialists the opportunity to sell prospective Japanese companies on business opportunities in Nebraska.

Lt. Gov. Sheehy said, "I am so pleased to have the opportunity to help reintroduce Nebraska companies to our Asian business partners. I traveled to Japan as mayor of Hastings and know that hospitality of the Japanese people is second to none. I look forward to helping strength and expand our international relationships in hopes of helping create jobs here in Nebraska."

The visit will entail meetings with top Japanese officials, tours of prominent companies and institutions, as well as meetings with officials of private companies – many of whom already have a presence in Nebraska.

"This trip is an opportunity for Nebraska companies and economic development leaders to explore possibilities for new business relationships with Japanese companies, while others hope to expand an already strong presence in this market," Gov. Heineman said.

Earlier this fall, Gov. Heineman announced plans to work with other state and private partners to create the state's first international trade office. Among his announcements was the selection of Koji Nagasaka to serve as executive director of the Nebraska Center. The office will serve as a hub for Nebraska's international business operations in Asia. Its priorities will include the recruitment to and expansion of Japanese-owned companies in Nebraska, agricultural market share expansion and cultivation of long-term partnerships for economic growth.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have worked to develop public-private partnerships with several Nebraska companies to help offset the costs of renting and maintaining the office space, in addition to staffing it. Operating costs will run between $85,000 and $90,000 a year.

DED and UNMC have pledged up to $20,000 each, which represents roughly half the funds needed. The remainder will come from other sponsors, including: the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, the Elkhorn Valley Economic Development Council and the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Diplomats, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, First National Bank of Omaha, Oxbow Pet Products of Murdoch, Bruckman Rubber of Hastings, Werner Enterprises of Omaha, and the Nebraska Corn Board, Kawasaki of Lincoln, as well as the Nebraska Public Power District and Omaha Public Power District.

DED Director Richard Baier said, "Because of our long-standing relationship with Japan, we have some genuine opportunities for growth. The Nebraska Center is an important opportunity to show our partners how serious we are about providing high quality products to Japanese consumers and attracting additional business investment to Nebraska."

State agricultural leaders will visit with retail and wholesale distributors and their customers, including hotel and restaurant owners with the goal of identifying opportunities and working to address challenges of marketing Nebraska beef and pork products throughout Japan.

Greg Ibach, Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said, "Japan has been a very important market for Nebraska agriculture in the past, and we continue to believe it is a fertile market for the future. Significant and substantive challenges remain to regain the position we held prior to the ban on U.S. beef, but we will continue working with our producers and their customers to market Nebraska ag products as the world's finest."

Japan is the third largest export market for Nebraska products and the largest overseas trading partner for the state. In 2004, exports totaled more than $193 million with processed foods and chemical manufactures making up 80 percent of those sales. Nebraska's last trade mission to Japan was in 2003. This is the fourth international trade mission since Gov. Heineman took office in January 2005, and the second trade delegation led by Lt. Gov. Sheehy.

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Aaron Sanderford, Gov’s Office, 402-471-1967
Joe Chapuran, DED, 402-595-1416
Christin Kamm, Ag, 402-471-6856

Photo gallery of press conference.

Individuals who are hearing and/or speech impaired and have a TDD, may contact the department through the Statewide Relay System by calling one of the following numbers:
711, (800) 833- 7352 (TDD), or (800) 833-0920 (voice).
The relay operator should be asked to call DED at (800) 426-6505, or (402) 471-3111.

Talent & Innovation Initiative (TI2)

One of the most important accomplishments of the 2011 legislative session was the passage of several bills focused on creating new momentum for developing and attracting businesses rooted in technology and innovation—Talent and Innovation Initiative. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development is in the early stages of implementation of the initiative and additional information on each program can be found here as it becomes available.

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Phone (800) 426-6505 | Fax (402) 471-3778