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December 19, 2023

The Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA) recently concluded a successful trade mission to Japan aimed at strengthening economic ties, promoting investment opportunities, and fostering ongoing international partnerships.

The SOMA delegation included representatives from all six SOMA communities including Ingersoll, Perth County, St. Thomas, Stratford, Tillsonburg and Woodstock. Over the course of the trade mission, heads of council, designates and economic development staff who made up the delegation brought a united message about the investment opportunities in the region and demonstrated the ongoing commitment of SOMA to supporting those companies with an existing presence in Southwestern Ontario.

The SOMA delegation spent time in Nagoya and Tokyo, two of the economic engines of Japan. Nagoya and Tokyo are home to a number of head office locations of companies with a presence in the SOMA region as well as the site of new investors looking to expand their presence into North America. Nagoya and Tokyo were also the site of two high profile events in partnership with the Canadian Consulate and Trade Commission. These events helped maintain and grow SOMA’s reputation as a willing and effective partner, a reputation built over numerous visits over the years and through the strong partnership it has maintained with the Canadian Trade Commission, Canadian Consulate, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan and other Japanese-Canadian business associations, trade organizations and industry groups.

Some of the specific outcomes of the trade mission include:

  • Meetings with 15 companies that already have a presence in Canada’s Industrial Heartland
  • 17 one-on-one meetings with companies that have expressed an interest in investing in the region
  • 15 meetings with trade, industry groups, business intermediaries and government organizations including leaders in the agri-food, manufacturing and automotive industry
  • Sponsorship and recognition at the Maple Leaf Gala, a premier trade and investment event hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan
  • Hosting events with 29 additional companies represented and over 85 attendees
  • Opportunity to meet Canada’s Ambassador to Japan, Ian G. McKay

Canada’s Industrial Heartland is well positioned to capitalize and attract further foreign investment as a result of the relationships developed through the 2023 trade mission in Japan. FDI Intelligence showed that Canada was the seventh highest country in the world in terms of inward FDI stock (2022) and Site Selection Magazine has named Ontario as the most competitive province for foreign direct investment in five of the last six years. In 2022, Japan was Canada’s largest source of bilateral FDI according to the Canadian Trade Commission and the region has already attracted Japanese investment well in excess of $2.05 Billion in investment and the creation of over 2,485 jobs (FDI Monitor, 2015).

 Additional Quotes:

“The City of Stratford is very well represented in terms of existing Japanese investments in our city. These companies provide great jobs and career opportunities to our residents and it is vital that we continue to support and recognize them for their contribution as well as encourage other companies to discover what Southwestern Ontario has to offer.” – Martin Ritsma – City of Stratford

“This trade mission to Japan was a valuable opportunity for our Delegation to continue to promote our region as an ideal destination for investment, particularly in the agri-food and automotive industries. Many of our Perth County producers export much of their agricultural products to Japan including significant exports of canola, pork, beans and more. Nurturing our relationship with commodity groups and their import partners & customers in Japan is critical to supporting our vibrant agricultural economy.” – Rhonda Ehgoetz, Warden – County of Perth

“With the re-opening of Japan’s economy earlier this year, the timing was right for SOMA’s return to this market. The Japanese companies we met with were excited about pursuing international growth and we had some great opportunities to pitch our region to investors as well as hear from those companies who already call Tillsonburg and Southwestern Ontario home.” Chris Parker, Councillor and Mayor’s Envoy – Town of Tillsonburg

“Japanese investment in the City of Woodstock has been transformational for the entire region. Companies like Toyota and Hino are just a few of the names that residents will recognize but the number of suppliers and feeder plants can be found throughout the entire SOMA region.” Jerry Acchione, Mayor – City of Woodstock

“Ingersoll benefits from its partnership with SOMA and the stellar reputation among Japanese business leaders. Japanese investment has enriched the town, fostering prosperity and growth. This collaboration positions Ingersoll for a promising future in global partnerships.” Brian Petrie, Mayor – Town of Ingersoll

“St. Thomas is home to a number of Japanese companies and we continue to see the Japanese market as a leading source of investment in our city. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I’m grateful that our team continues to be in market and does the important work of promoting St. Thomas and the SOMA region as a destination of choice and willing partner.” Joe Preston, Mayor – City of St. Thomas

For media inquiries, please contact:

Len Magyar, President

Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance

519-539-1291 x 2112

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About the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance:

The Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA) is a partnership of Southwestern Ontario communities that has grown out of natural economic ties. This region, known as Canada's Industrial Heartland, encompasses the municipalities of Ingersoll, Perth County, Stratford, St. Thomas, Tillsonburg, and Woodstock. It stretches across Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford and Perth counties. SOMA works with all levels of government and the private sector to promote the advantages of locating within the region. SOMA and its partners offer a number of services to companies looking to grow within the region and are recognized as one of the longest standing foreign direct investment partnerships in Canada.