Walz meets with Japanese companies eyeing investment in Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz met Thursday with representatives of about a dozen Japan-based companies considering opening offices or facilities in Minnesota.

Japan is the third-largest foreign investor in the state with more than 40 Japanese-owned companies already operating businesses at nearly 100 locations in Minnesota, state officials said Thursday.

The visiting companies were part of the delegation organized by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) that works to promote Japanese investment globally.

While the names of specific visiting companies were not disclosed, Minnesota’s medical business economy is clearly part of the draw as representatives of the Medical Alley trade group attended the meeting.

“It’s no mistake that when these companies wanted to come to the US, they came to two places: Washington, DC, to make some federal connections, and then Minnesota, which is the home to Medical Alley,” said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

“This is part of business development,” Grove said. “This is a competitive time in our economy. We are fighting tooth and nail with other states for expansion, for growth.”

Grove said the delegation would also be visiting the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Thursday’s meeting was held at the Brooklyn Park facility of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which is based in Japan.

Takeda acquired the Brooklyn Park facility in 2015 to serve as its first US manufacturing plant. Takeda has 800 employees in Minnesota, including its biological plasma donation centers across the state; approximately 360 staffers work at the Brooklyn Park plant. Takeda’s products include plasma-derived therapies.

“Medical devices and biotechnology is one of our key things,” Walz said of the state’s economy.

Walz noted that another Japanese company, Tokyo-based Toppan Printing Co., recently expanded in Minnesota. The specialty printer completed a $ 6 million expansion to its facility in Sartell last year.

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