Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman reports on trade mission to Japan


St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
A Member of the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA)
SOMA Trade Mission to Japan – November, 2011

The Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA), http://www.somasite.com, is a partnership of seven Southwestern Ontario communities grown out of natural economic ties. The members of SOMA include St. Thomas, Stratford, St. Marys, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg and Aylmer. With the sole mandate of marketing and promoting the region as a prime location for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), SOMA’s objectives are clear – to generate investment and provide employment opportunities for its member municipalities.

In early November, the Mayor of St. Thomas joined Mayors from Ingersoll, Stratford and Woodstock and the Executive of the SOMA Board of Directors on a trade mission to Japan that included the following activities intended to increase awareness of the region and to generate investment leads in a variety of manufacturing sectors:
• A meeting with the Ambassador of Canada to Japan, Jonathan Fried, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo to discuss potential investment opportunities, the current Japanese business climate and forecasts of areas of growth from Japan.
• A well-attended Investment Seminar, hosted by SOMA, in the City of Nagoya. Speakers included representatives from the Consulate of Canada in Nagoya, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japanese and Canadian law firm Davis LLP and Takagi Manufacturing, the parent company of St. Thomas-based Takumi Stamping Canada.
• SOMA members engaged in several independent company visits, including some to further enhance the relationships with companies already established in their municipalities. Representatives from St. Thomas took the opportunity to meet with executives from Takagi Manufacturing and Amino Corporation, as both have a strong industrial presence in the City.
The devastation caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011 was felt not only in Japan, but around the world. In the SOMA Region, there is a large Japanese presence and the impact on these companies was significant. In order to raise funds for Japan relief, the City of St. Thomas held a charity hockey game with the County of Elgin earlier this year. As an additional show of support for the people of Japan, residents of St. Thomas worked together to fold 1,000 origami paper cranes. St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman presented this symbolic offering to the Mayor of Fujinomiya, Japan during the trade mission.
“This is a difficult time in Japan, but it is imperative that we continue to work with our Japanese partners to ensure that we are doing all that we can to assist them to grow and prosper in St. Thomas” said Mayor Jackson-Chapman. “In our meetings with Japanese executives and government officials, it was obvious that they were encouraged by our show of support and as committed as we are to solidify our relationships for the long-term.”
Following the mission to Japan, individual SOMA members will be actively responding to enquiries and information requests received while overseas. For over a decade, the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance has been working to establish the region as Ontario’s Heartland, “one location with many places to grow”. This trade mission is an excellent example of regional cooperation that is mutually beneficial. Located in the heart of one of Canada’s top manufacturing clusters, SOMA will continue to raise awareness to foreign investors and encourage growth in its member municipalities.
For more information please contact Robert Wheeler, St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation General Manager and SOMA Director, at (519) 631-1680 ext. 4132 or by email at rwheeler@st-thomasedc.on.ca.

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