Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter, CEO Gary Clayton and Liaison to Japanese Consulate Ayumi Deloney were invited by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to participate and represent the real estate industry in Japan earlier this month. The trip, the governor’s first international trade mission, was coordinated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Intersect Illinois, which is the state’s private economic development partner.
Activity during the trip centered on participation in the Midwest U.S. – Japan Associations’ Annual Conference in Tokyo. These organizations together have 10 states and roughly 100 Japanese corporations that network and collaborate on ways to increase foreign direct investment and industry expansion.
Although former governor James R. Thompson chairs the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association, Gordon Dobie, a partner of Winston Strawn, stood in for him. In Tokyo, the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association is chaired by Yuzaburo Mogi, Honorary CEO and Chairman of the Board for Kikkoman Corporation, one of Japan’s oldest corporations and a well-known brand.
Illinois REALTORS® was considered an integral partner for this trade mission given that real estate is a major component of economic development. The Consulate Liaision program that began in 2015 has been a great way for the association to expand its partner efforts and market the benefits of Illinois assets. For example, our air, rail, road, and waterway system well position a company to transport goods across the country, whether final products or part of the supply chain.
Deloney, who was born in the Kanagawa prefecture in Japan, is the Liaison to the Japanese consulate in Chicago and the consul general, Naoki Ito, was also in attendance at the event. Through many transactions with Japanese clients Deloney has demonstrated her understanding of the Japanese culture and business norms, which makes her a great liaison for the association and a great partner on the trip.
Erik Brejla, Assistant Deputy Director for Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, coordinated the governor’s trade mission and saw great value in REALTOR® participation. He was excited about the trip, including a reception sponsored by Illinois REALTORS®. “The reception was huge and had over 200 attendees who were interested in building the Illinois/Japan relationship,” said Brejla.
Carpenter, who gave opening remarks at the reception and introduced Rauner, stated, “We were excited to accept the invitation to participate and look forward to being part of the effort to expand corporate investment that will result in increased jobs and economic development opportunities for our members and Illinois citizens.”