When I was lieutenant governor in the mid-1980s, Kentucky had less than a handful of Japanese-owned companies.
But then-Gov. Martha Layne Collins had a vision that began with aggressive efforts to recruit Toyota Motor Manufacturing to Georgetown.
That goal paid off, and today Kentucky has nearly 150 Japanese-owned companies employing nearly 33,000 people across the state, a significant and critical part of our economy.
I have the same vision for India.
That’s why I left today for a seven-day economic development mission that represents the first-ever trip to India by a sitting Kentucky governor. This is a strategic effort to increase both trade and investment opportunities between Kentucky and one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
I will be accompanied by First Lady Jane Beshear, who is one of the state’s best ambassadors, and Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes.
The trip is carefully scheduled to showcase the unlimited opportunities Kentucky offers to Indian investors and to connect with key Indian and U.S. business organizations.
Among those we will be meeting in New Delhi and Mumbai are:
- Key government officials, including former India President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
- Major business organizations, including the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).
- Officals from Chandra Proteco, an India-based company that recently located its Kentucky Copper facility in Morgantown, Ky.
- Companies actively considering future investments in the United States.
I was invited to India by NASSCOM, the premier trade body and the chamber of commerce of the information technology industries in India, and the organization is sponsoring the trip.
Currently six Indian-owned companies operate in Kentucky, employing more than 1,500 people. These operations entail a $148 million investment in the Commonwealth.
But there is room for significant growth. Between 2004 and 2009, Kentucky’s exports to India grew more than 252 percent to $96.5 million.
This trip will continue that momentum by opening the door to future collaborations between Kentucky and India.
We cannot hunker down and hide during this difficult economic time.
We must aggressively push forward and seek opportunities for new relationships and growth.