Experts Discuss International Tariffs, Workforce Recruitment at Japan-Northeast Indiana Summit

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with the office of the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago, hosted the Japan-Northeast Indiana Summit today at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Government, community and business leaders who attended the event learned about international tariffs, skills training and workforce recruitment from industry experts representing Japan, the State of Indiana and local government and economic development organizations.

According to the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago, more than 320 Japanese-owned businesses operate in Indiana, demonstrating the strength and positive economic impact of the long-standing relationship between Indiana and Japan. Japanese companies have 24 locations in 10 counties in Northeast Indiana and employ more than 67,000 people statewide.

Event speakers included:

  • Vice President of Industry, Labor & Economics at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Kristin Dziczek
  • Consul-General of Japan in Chicago Naoki Ito
  • Commissioner of Indiana Department of Workforce Development Fred Payne
  • Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership President and CEO John Sampson

Consul-General Naoki Ito represents the Japanese government in Indiana and nine other Midwest states.  The main purposes of his office are to serve Japanese nationals, present Japanese culture, and provide information about Japan. On the economic front, he communicates with businesses in the region and helps provide connections for companies looking to do business in Japan.  

“I’m impressed by Northeast Indiana’s commitment to accelerate our business partnership.  I’ve seen firsthand that this region is a critical partner for Japan. The summit has provided an opportunity for us to increase direct investment and trade both ways. Through dialogue and cooperation, we need to address two challenges that we face together: workforce development and tariffs, and we should continue to improve the business environment,” said Consul-General Ito.

Fred Payne, commissioner for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said understanding the unique relationship between Japan and Indiana is important as the state continues to develop, engage and train the workforce in Indiana.

“It’s critical for businesses to engage, train and retrain employees to attract and retain a strong workforce. During the event, we discussed how businesses can take advantage of the state’s employer-based incentives to train and retrain employees to fill high-wage and high-demand jobs,” said Payne. 

John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said Northeast Indiana’s relationship with Japan is largely tied to Northeast Indiana’s strength in manufacturing.

“These relationships are extremely important to our state and specifically to Northeast Indiana because of our strong target industries. The Japan-Northeast Indiana Summit is a great example of collaboration that demonstrates a collective commitment to working together and building relationships to spur growth and investment,” said Sampson.

The event was sponsored by Wabash Valley Power Association, SEAVAC, SGS Kyocera Precision Tool, Huntington County Economic Development Corporation, the City of Wabash, Trine University, Japanese American Association of Indiana (JAAI), Purdue University Fort Wayne, Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne and Oji Intertech.

To learn more about news in Northeast Indiana, visit the website at For more information about foreign direct investment, visit

About the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s mission is to build, market and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment. Founded in 2006, the public-private partnership strives to build a globally competitive region. The Partnership’s Vision 2030 framework supports collaborative regional efforts to increase per capita income, population growth and educational attainment by focusing on business attraction, talent attraction and talent development. The Partnership represents 11 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. For more information, visit



Kate Virag
Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Communications
Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

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