Gov. Laura Kelly addressed participants in the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference this week during an economic development tour that included visits in Japan and South Korea with companies with businesses in Kansas. (Kansas Reflector screen capture of submitted photo)
TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly completed an economic development tour of Japan and South Korea by visiting headquarters of CJ CheilJedang, which invested $600 million in construction of the world’s largest pizza manufacturing plant in Salina.
The South Korean food company based in Seoul, which since 2019 has owned Schwan’s, opened the pizza manufacturing plant May. A distribution center to complement the production facility could be finished in early 2025.
“By strengthening those relationships and building new ones, we continue spurring economic development success and delivering on our mission to make Kansas the best state to live, work and raise a family,” the two-term Democratic governor said in a statement.
During the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference this week in Japan, Kelly spoke to participants about the state’s pursuit of business collaboration. She joined a bipartisan contingent of Midwest governors who met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, an appointee of President Joe Biden.
“Governor Kelly’s commitment to strengthening ties with Japan and South Korea is exactly the kind of forward-thinking leadership needed for trilateral cooperation,” Emanuel said. “These partnerships aren’t just about business. They’re about building a brighter future for Kansans.”
Kelly met in Kyoto, Japan, with Panasonic Energy executives. In 2022, Panasonic committed to building a massive electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in De Soto. That $4 billion investment in the Kansas economy was projected to create 4,000 jobs and would be the largest economic development project in state history.
The Tokyo leg of the tour took the governor to headquarters of Marubeni Corp., which acquired Creekstone Farms Premium Beef in Arkansas City during 2017. The company has invested $35 million in Creekstone upgrades, including a 20,000-square-foot child care center currently under construction.
“The relationships we’ve established with Japanese and Korean companies like Panasonic, Marubeni and CJ CheilJedang have been instrumental in the $17.4 billion in private investments made into the state since I took office,” Kelly said.
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