The Midwest U.S.-Japan Association is a recently concluded trade conference which lasted for three days. It was held in Omaha and over 100 individuals attended the conference including dignitaries from Japan, state officials and local officials together with Governor Pete Ricketts. One of their destinations in the itinerary is the huge plant of Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing located in the northwestern part of Lincoln. It is the biggest investment of Japan in the state according to Kawasaki dealers therefore the scheduled visit is not surprising at all.
Ricketts visited the plant together with Kikkoman Corp’s board chairman, Yuzaburo Mogi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ president Yoshinori Kanehana, Japan’s Chicago-based consul general, Naoki Ito and other Japanese dignitaries and officials. Kawasaki Heavy Industries is Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing’s parent company.
The Kawasaki plant has a total land area of over 2 million square feet. It is where a number of products and equipment are manufactured such as airplane parts, Jet Skis, rail car parts, all terrain vehicles and utility vehicles. In total, the plant has around 2,000 workers and according to Ricketts the jobs in the plant are quite good paying.
The plant was made operation in 1974 and since then the Japanese company has conducted a number of expansions. In 2001, the rail car manufacturing was added and in 2017 the aerospace manufacturing.
Kawasaki’s plant in Lincoln is the reason why a number of Japanese manufacturers have decided to construct their plant there as well. Ricketts said that the total investment made by Japanese in Nebraska has already reached $4.4 billion starting in 2010 and majority of these are found in Lincoln. These companies employ around 9,400 workers all over the state. Ricketts added that these kinds of investments are always welcome.
Ricketts value the relationship between the state and the Japanese because they provide the largest investment from a foreign country and it is the second largest in all of the trade partners of Nebraska that is not covered by North America. Now many of the Kawasaki dealers are worried because Japan might be next in the list of countries to be imposed with tariff.