Planting seeds: East Asia mission trip is latest example of state’s economic revival

The largest grove of Japanese cherry blossom trees in the U.S. resides in Newark’s Branch Brook Park, a little more than two miles from Choose New Jersey’s office. I thought about those blossoms — and the spirit of rebirth and renewal they represent — when I was in Tokyo last week witnessing Gov. Phil Murphy and Japan’s Fukui prefecture Lt. Gov. Yasuhiro Nakamura sign a Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming the 30-year-old sister state relationship between Fukui and New Jersey.

The signing occurred on the first weekday of our multinational economic mission to East Asia. It was just one of many events during the trip that acknowledged the importance of the strong educational, cultural and economic connections between New Jersey and our economic partners and allies in the region, including Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

These ties are evident across our state, from the authentic markets and cultural events in thriving Asian communities in Edgewater, Fort Lee, Palisades Park, Edison and New Brunswick, to the strong corporate presence of Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese companies, such as Sony, Mitsubishi, Subaru, LG, Samsung and Evergreen.

The ties are equally evident in countries that share our values and our approach to building a sustainable and equitable economy. Like New Jersey, each of the places we visited cares about quality of life, outstanding public education, common sense gun laws and public safety and maternal health. And they each look to pair those qualities with dynamic, innovation-led economies that are at the forefront of new technologies like generative artificial intelligence, semiconductors, clean energy and decarbonization, digital health and biotech. Sound familiar?

The mission brought together business leaders from some of New Jersey’s most prominent companies, representatives from seven of our top universities and elected officials to help solidify these connections and promote New Jersey as the ideal platform to grow in the U.S. market. It included meetings with companies, executives, trade organizations, government officials, higher education leaders, startup incubators and key commercial and economic partners, reflecting a comprehensive approach to attracting inward investment across key sectors for the New Jersey economy. All told, we hosted nearly 100 separate events and engaged more than 1,000 businesses and organizations over the course of the week.

The mission resulted in numerous new and strengthened relationships, including business agreements, academic collaborations, research partnerships, governmental MOUs and the announcement of the 2024 opening of the New Jersey Asia-Pacific Center in Taipei City, Taiwan. The center will be Choose New Jersey’s fifth international office, joining offices covering mainland Europe, Ireland, India and Israel, and will help strengthen the ties between New Jersey and the region, enabling increased trade, investment and collaboration in sectors crucial to our state’s continued economic success.

The Governor-led mission underscored a fundamental tenet of the work that Choose New Jersey does, in tandem with the Governor’s office, the Economic Development Authority, and other state government partners – to spur economic growth in New Jersey – namely, that when we organize economic missions like this one, we attract new business and expand investment ties.

For example:

  • The Choose New Jersey Europe Center: Since it was opened in 2018, under the leadership of Gov. Phil Murphy, we have witnessed a remarkable 144% increase in European companies looking to open offices in New Jersey;
  • The New Jersey India Center: The center and associated economic missions have led to a staggering 2,025% increase in Indian companies expressing interest in the state;
  • The New Jersey Israel Center: The center and related economic missions have contributed $447 million in trade since 2018.
  • The New Jersey Ireland Center: The center and economic missions to Ireland have resulted in $285 million in new investment in New Jersey and led to the creation of the New Jersey-Ireland Trade Commission.

This approach underscores our commitment to attracting foreign direct investment as a key driver of economic growth, job creation, the development of a thriving innovation ecosystem and enhanced global competitiveness. With our strategic location, highly skilled workforce, diverse industries and rich cultural ties to countries like India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, New Jersey is well-positioned to attract foreign investors looking to tap into the U.S. market.

As we continue to build bridges with Asian nations and expand our international presence, we are sending a clear message to the global community: We invite the world to be a part of our success story, because New Jersey is the ideal place to let your business bloom.

Wes Mathews is the CEO & president of Choose New Jersey.

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