SEOUL – Gov. John Bel Edwards wrapped up a week of high-level engagements with business and government leaders in Asia Friday by discussing a wide range of economic and policy issues with U.S. Ambassador of South Korea Philip S. Goldberg. Earlier in the day, the governor and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson visited the corporate headquarters of Kumho Tire, one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, about the company’s expanding operations in Louisiana.
“This week, we sent a powerful message to investors and trading partners in Japan and South Korea: the people of Louisiana appreciate the jobs you have created and tax revenues you have generated in our state, and we stand ready to support additional investment,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Companies like Kumho Tire, Zen-Noh, Shin-Etsu, Tokai Carbon and Lotte Chemical are a big reason why Louisiana regularly ranks No. 1 in per capita foreign direct investment. They understand the benefits of our strategic location, abundant natural resources and skilled manufacturing workforce. We look forward to a long and durable relationship with these companies and continued economic collaboration between our two countries.”
In January, Kumho announced it will build a 350,000 square foot distribution facility and warehouse in St. Mary Parish that will process about 5 million tires a year. Kumho expects the new warehouse distribution center will help it respond to global supply chain logistics challenges, expand its sales network and strengthen its distribution competitiveness in the South and Midwest U.S. markets.
“We will leverage our strategic location in the U.S. and the distribution center to expand our service coverage and boost our brand value in the global market,” Kumho Tires President and CEO Iltaik Jung said. “Continued expansion in the world’s largest tire market will allow us to achieve sustainable growth and development down the road.”
Kumho’s investment also will strengthen Louisiana’s position as the country’s No. 1 importer of natural rubber. Louisiana’s ability to provide supply chain solutions for other South Korean companies looking to expand their access to international markets was among the topics discussed by Gov. Edwards and Ambassador Goldberg in a meeting at the embassy Friday, followed by a reception at the ambassador’s residence in Seoul.
Recent infrastructure investments – a $250 million project to deepen the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico, and the $1.8 billion container terminal expansion project at the Port of New Orleans – have enhanced Louisiana’s standing as a prime location for international companies seeking ease of access to global markets.
“As we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, what began as a bilateral security and defense relationship has expanded into an economic partnership that directly benefits both the Korean and American people,” Ambassador Goldberg said. “Trade and investments like those in Louisiana benefit the local economy while continuing to strengthen the ties between our two countries.”
Governor Edwards is scheduled to return to Louisiana Saturday.