ROCHELLE — Representatives from Japan and the State of Illinois economic development team were impressed with the ‘Hub City’ after paying a visit Friday.
Consul-General Naoki ITO and Ralph Inforzato, Chief Executive Director for the Japanese External Trade Organization, JETRO, along with Mark Peterson, President and CEO of Intersect Illinois toured Rochelle as well as MightyVine and Silgan Containers.
Recently Jason Anderson, Economic Development Director for Rochelle participated in a trade mission trip with Gov. Rauner and members from Intersect Illinois. While in Japan, Anderson extended an invitation to the officials to tour Rochelle and discuss ways on how to collaborate on economic development opportunities between the state and Japan.
Currently Illinois is home to 630 Japanese companies that have generated 44,000 jobs.
Following Friday’s tour, a press conference was held at Rochelle City Hall to discuss the day’s events. ITO thanked Mayor Chet Olson and those who organized the visit. The group saw an aerial view of the city by helicopter.
“I am convinced this is the real Hub of everything, roads, railroads, good school facilities, and ample land for further industrial development,” ITO said. “What strikes me most is the great vision shared by the leaders of the city. I really commend the great leadership of Mayor Olson and Jason Anderson and others. They have a really great vision for economic development. That will be the key to the future success of this city.”
ITO also said he believes the future of a Japan-Illinois partnership is here in Rochelle.
Inforzato echoed ITO’s statements, giving credit to the infrastructure in place but also the leadership.
“The leadership…the passionate leadership for building and growing a stable economy in Rochelle is there, that’s what impressed me most,” Inforzato said.
ITO said the representatives are visiting as many cities as possible searching for areas where Japanese businesses can set up new operations and make investments in communities and create new jobs, already having visited Peoria, Illinois and Columbus, Indiana in September. Later this month, the group plans to go downstate to Mt. Vernon and Marion, followed by locations in Indiana.
“We are trying to visit as many cities as possible…cities outside of big cities. We are looking at how the Japanese companies are received in the local community, and the potential of economic development or the investment planning of those cities,” ITO said.
ITO said he was thoroughly impressed with what Rochelle has to offer, the leaders’ vision and the potential.
“When we bring companies from all over the world, to make their decision where they will set up new operations, I would feel very comfortable bringing them to team Rochelle. No doubt this community has its act together, right resources, assets, leadership in place, and they have firm partnerships around the world as demonstrated by ITO’s visit today,” Peterson said. “We will be back, my guess is with new companies in tow looking to set up operations in Rochelle…This is a model, and I would like to see more of the communities in the state that I visit have what Rochelle has done. It has not come overnight but through many years of investment and work and it shows.”