By Kelsey Musick
Boone County Economic Development Corp. executive director Molly Whitehead recently returned from a week in Japan with Boone County Councilor Elise Nieshalla.
Boone Councy Director of Marketing and Communications Kim Heffner said residents are often surprised to learn that six Boone County companies have headquarters in Japan, including one of Zionsville’s newest companies, Nitto.
Whitehead and Nieshalla visited Nitto and spent most of their time learning about the company’s business in the aerospace and automotive industries.
“Nitto’s facility in Zionsville primarily serves as a distribution center. However, Nitto is involved in many different types of industries,” Whitehead said. “We focused much of our conversation with them on how we can help them build relationships and how we can educate them about our community and region.”
According to Whitehead, there are many reasons for Boone County officials to visit its Japanese companies’ headquarters. Most importantly, it is a relationship-building opportunity.
“We want the company executives to get to know us individually and as a community, to build trust and to become comfortable doing business in Boone County,” Whitehead said. “We also want to share our story with our existing companies, and with the (business) prospects we had the opportunity to meet with while in Japan. Finally, we want to problem-solve with our companies. We want to hear about their challenges and learn how we can help them build connections and become more successful.”
Gift-giving is a large part of Japanese culture. Each time EDC officials visit Japan, they bring gifts from Indiana.
“This year, we worked with AJ Schnell Woodworks, a Zionsville woodworker, to bring custom Boone County, Indiana coasters with us as gifts,” Whitehead said. “These gifts were very well received, especially as they were made locally.”