FRANKFORT, KY (5/11/12) – Governor Steve Beshear will depart today for a seven-day economic development trip to Taiwan and Japan. The visit will showcase Kentucky’s thriving Bourbon industry, celebrate Kentucky’s 30-year sister-state relationship with Taiwan, and further cultivate the economic development potential with both Taiwan and Japan.
“I’m very excited for the opportunities this visit offers the Commonwealth, Taiwan, and Japan. Mutual goodwill, economic development, and prosperity are our common goals,” Gov. Beshear said. “We’re looking forward to capitalizing on the enormous potential that exists for Kentucky’s Bourbon industry in Taiwan, as well as strengthening existing relationships and building new ones that will further enhance our economic ties with Taiwan and Japan.”
Encouraging trade with Taiwan is a primary goal of the visit. Gov. Beshear plans to promote one of Kentucky’s signature industries, Bourbon, as a product for the Taiwanese market. Representatives of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association will accompany Gov. Beshear on the visit to Taiwan.
Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's Bourbon, which is the largest export category of all U.S. spirits, shipping 28.7 million proof gallons to 126 different countries in 2010 (up from 25 million gallons in 2008). More than 9,000 jobs in Kentucky are connected to distillery-related enterprise, generating more than $400 million in payroll and contributing $2 billion in annual gross state product.
“Kentucky Bourbon is more than just a drink, it’s a top global export and an international icon of Kentucky tradition and craftsmanship,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “We’re looking forward to working with Taiwanese officials and Gov. Beshear to further promote our signature spirit in this promising market.”
Gov. Beshear will also meet with Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, and present a proclamation celebrating the 30-year sister-state relationship between Taiwan and Kentucky, which began with Gov. John Y. Brown in 1982 for the purpose of bringing about mutual welfare and prosperity by economic, trade, social and cultural developments.
In the spirit of sister statehood, Taiwan has reached out to Kentucky after recent natural disasters. This past March, Taiwan made a $30,000 donation to help Kentucky recover from devastating severe weather which killed 24 Kentuckians and destroyed hundreds of homes. In 2011, Taiwanese officials also donated $20,000 to the American Red Cross Chapter in Louisville after storms caused widespread damage and flooding in more than half the state’s counties.
Following Taiwan, Gov. Beshear will visit Japan to further strengthen existing economic ties and work to build relationships with businesses considering new investments in Kentucky.
Japanese-owned manufacturing and supportive service companies already operate more than 150 facilities in Kentucky and provide more than 34,000 full-time jobs. More than 2,200 new jobs and capital investments in excess of $563 million have been announced by several of these companies during Gov. Beshear’s administration. On a per capita basis, Kentucky has the second-highest Japanese foreign direct investment in the United States.
“We’ve enjoyed tremendous success and have built an ongoing partnership with the Japanese business community, and we look forward to continued growth as a direct result of this visit,” said Gov. Beshear.
Several companies have announced major investments in Kentucky after Gov. Beshear’s previous international economic development trips. Most recently, UFLEX, Ltd. announced plans to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Elizabethtown, creating 250 new jobs and a $180 million investment. Hitachi has made multiple job-creation announcements in both Harrodsburg and Berea that will result in a total of 335 new jobs and $154.5 million in total new investment for Kentucky.
Additionally, Gov. Beshear recently participated in the grand opening of Fuel Total Systems in Lebanon. The company announced its $38 million, 100-job location project shortly after Gov. Beshear met with company officials in Japan during his first trip to the country as Governor in 2008.
Gov. Beshear’s efforts to increase Kentucky exports have also gained momentum with the creation of the Governor’s Kentucky Export Initiative in late 2010. The initiative brings together a consortium of trade and business promotion organizations from across the state whose goal is to grow Kentucky exports. Managed by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Kentucky Export Initiative is now accepting applications from Kentucky small businesses for grant money made available through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP).
The grant program is part of a three-year trade and export promotion pilot initiative authorized by the Small Business Administration Act of 2010, which aims to increase the number of small businesses that export, as well as to increase the value of exports for companies that are currently doing so. Kentucky’s total exports hit a record high in 2011, reaching $20 billion.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky or follow on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Steve Beshear
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