James.qxp May June 2019 web - Page 29

Atlanta is a city where business is all anyone thinks
about. It dominates every aspect of life. Few are headed
to an off-Broadway play after work. They are more likely to have just ended another day on the set of a
motion picture or TV series being lmed in Georgia.
Not only are residents of the state too busy to hate,
they are just too busy. Period.
Of course, savvy residents of cities like Atlanta must
calculate when and where to gas their car up to avoid
being carjacked. And if you aren’t prepared to drive at
least 85 miles an hour on I-285 or be run over, you better pull over and let the locals lead the way. Yes, we can
handle life in Chicago or Detroit with a breeze.
Georgia puts the “rough” in rough and tumble.
Everyone knows that the rst 20 minutes of the local
news, particularly in Atlanta, will be dominated by
reports of murder and violent crime. That comes with
life in one of the biggest cities and states in the nation.
Georgia also has world class restaurants. We know
that any type of sport from lacrosse, to deer hunting,
to deep sea or trout fishing, to our beloved football
takes place at the highest of levels in the state. We just
never got that hockey thing quite right. And there is
no form of the arts or any pop cultural event that can’t
be found within a short drive.
Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Four tournaments,
political conventions. That’s standard fare in Georgia
M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9
As for its politics, I personally knew or know every
governor from Carl Sanders on. Georgia is politics. In
the Peach State it’s not just a civic duty, it’s the roughest of sports.
Even though I now live in Florida, I made it a point
to y up to see Brian Kemp sworn in as governor. With
a state as diverse and ever-changing as Georgia, he is
our rst full-edged lifelong Republican to hold the
office since Reconstruction. And after his likely eight
years in office, as demographics shift he may be the last.
Yet that won’t matter because Georgians are used to
change. After you’ve been burned to the ground and a
century-plus later you are bursting at the seams, change
is what you come to expect.
It really is true that we can do just about anything
because the state has just about everything that life can
offer. It’s not all perfect, but neither is the rest of the
And if you ever live anywhere else, and someone
asks you “have you done that?” or “have you seen that?”
or “can you do that?” you can condently respond: “Are
you kidding? I’m from Georgia.”
Enough said.
Matt Towery is the founder and chairman of James and
InsiderAdvantage Georgia.
ver the past several
years Georgia, like other
Southeastern states, has
benefitted significantly
from foreign investment
in various industries, particularly the automotive
and manufacturing sectors.
International Airport brought
international connections and name
recognition to the state, and the Olympic Games firmly
established Atlanta as an international city.
Georgia’s ports, located in Savannah and Brunswick,
also play an important role in supporting foreign investment.
Indeed, Georgia is a good place to do business.
In this context, it is significant to note that Japan leads
the way among international investors in Georgia— based
on total dollar value of investments— and is also the state’s
third largest investor based on the number of facilities
owned or operated by Japanese companies.
In 2017 Georgia exports to Japan totaled $1.36 billion,
establishing the country as the sixth largest export market for
the state. Georgia imports from Japan amounted to $4.95 billion, which makes the country Georgia’s fifth largest importer.
Japanese companies are also top employers in Georgia,
with more than 600 Japanese facilities operating in the state
and employing approximately 30,000 Georgians.
An example is TOTO, the world’s largest manufacturer
of bathroom fixtures and fittings with more than $5.1 billion in annual sales. In 1996, TOTO USA opened a stateof-the-art manufacturing plant in Morrow, GA which also
serves as the headquarters for the Americas Division of
TOTO Global Group.
Promoting this growing Georgia-Japanese relationship
is Takashi Shinozuka, Japan’s consul general to Georgia
since January of 2016. It is a consular presence maintained
by the country since 1974.
The consul general has served his country in Asia,
Europe and in the Imperial Household in Tokyo, a government agency in charge of state matters concerning the
Imperial Family and keeping of the Privy Seal and the State
Seal of Japan.
“I had never served in the United States and it was my
dream to do so,” Shinozuka says. “I believe in serendipity,
and I am blessed to have been assigned at last in a wonderful place like Georgia.”
Consulates (and their chief diplomat, the consul) assist
with issuing visas, and taking care of tourists, and expatriates. But their most important role is fostering strong economic and trading relationships. In this regard, the
Consulate General of Japan and the Japan External Trade
Organization (JETRO) are both located in Atlanta.
“Georgia is a great place, its people are welcoming, and
the Japanese community is generally thriving. But life has
its ups and downs, and Japanese community members
occasionally encounter challenges beyond their control,” he
says. “My job is to prevent such situations if possible, and to
help fix them if they occur. And while our community
thrives here, we continually strive to do better, even in a
place where we already doing well.”
Atlanta is also home to the Japanese Chamber of
Commerce and the Japan-American Society of Georgia.
“Our diplomatic goals include working to develop winwin relations between people and communities, and to promote understanding and avoid misunderstanding. This is
something my predecessors have been doing for more than
40 years, but today public diplomacy is more important than
ever,” Shinozuka says.
Georgia’s Department of Economic Development has
been proactive in recruiting Japanese businesses to Georgia
as well. The department has maintained a presence, including continuous economic development representation in
Japan, since 1973. It has assisted hundreds of Japanese
firms in locating offices, businesses and manufacturing
enterprises in the state. continued on page 30
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