Japanese direct investment is the top source of foreign capital in Ohio, contributing millions to the economy and providing thousands of jobs across the state. If the first three months of 2015 are any indication, the outlook moving forward remains positive.
In the first quarter of the year, several Japanese-owned companies have already announced plans to upgrade facilities or acquire new businesses, providing an influx of capital and additional job opportunities for Ohioans. One of the newest acquisitions by a Japanese-owned company is the purchase of Country Pure Foods, an Akron, Ohio-based food company, bought in a joint-venture by Sapporo International and Toyota Tsusho America. The new owners plan on maintaining all current facilities, while expanding their food-service division. Country Pure employs an estimated 500 people, including 130 at its Akron plant. Car manufacturer Honda is also planning a large investment in the state, spending roughly $340 million to upgrade its facilities. The company remains Ohio’s largest international employer, providing roughly 13,000 direct jobs and a further 15,000 jobs in its automotive supplier base.
Overall, Japan invests in Ohio more than any other foreign country, and the state ranks second for most Japanese-owned companies after California with an estimated 422 facilities. The majority of those are manufacturing-related, with a smaller percentage of commercial trade firms and transportation facilities. Japanese investment appears in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with over 50% of the companies located in central (Franklin and Union County) and southwest Ohio (Hamilton County). The northeast (Cuyahoga County) and the Cleveland area also have a large number of Japanese-owned companies. Though a smaller number of firms are located in Ohio’s northwest, the area employs more Ohioans than anywhere else in the state.
Taken together, Japanese-owned corporations employ more than 70,000 people in the state, of which 98% are local Ohioans. Employment at these corporations has risen by just over 27% in the last five years.
Nate Schlabach is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a graduate student at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.