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Strengthening economic ties with Japan

On Nov. 29, Southern Illinois lawmakers and local officials traveled with Japanese Consul General Naoki Ito to meet with key educational and manufacturing leaders in southern Illinois.

The group toured the Aisin Manufacturing campus in Marion. The company’s footprint has grown from one plant to three since the Japanese firm’s first Illinois groundbreaking in fall 2001. Before the tour, business, government and educational leaders gathered for a working luncheon at Rend Lake College in Ina.

Jonathon Hallberg, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Corp., said Marion and other southern Illinois communities have benefited greatly from the Illinois-Japan connection, which dates back more than 140 years.

Gov. Bruce Rauner also traveled with the Consul General, and noted that Japanese companies have driven economic development throughout the state.

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