In a less common IVLP delegation, SACIV was able to welcome Ms. Yuna Natsumi to San Antonio to learn about foreign direct investment and economic development as part of the Global Government-to-Government Partnership (G3P). G3P exchanges are organized through the Department of State and the Office of International Visitors, but this specific IVLP program affords government officials from other countries the chance to live and work in the United States for up to one year as they learn more about the US and specific professional skills. As part of that program, Ms. Natsumi travelled with her liaison to several cities in the United States to learn about foreign direct investment from each and also experience the cultural activities each area had to offer.
San Antonio was Ms. Natsumi’s first stop. After some initial difficulties with their flights, our visiting fellow and her liaison came to the UTSA Institute for Economic Development where Doug Smith and Jaime Martinez shared their work both in local economic development and business incubation as well as in international trade and foreign direct investment assistance. Mr. Martinez in particular was able to elaborate on the work of the International Trade Center to facilitate investment in San Antonio.
Ms. Natsumi then met with representatives of Congressman Joaquin Castro at his district office including Congressman Castro’s Chief of Staff Danny Meza. Together, they discussed the work of Representative Castro as co-chair of the U.S.-Japan Congressional Caucus, and how political leaders aided in promoting foreign direct investment projects like the San Antonio Toyota Plant.
Having learned a little bit about the circumstances regarding Toyota’s investments in San Antonio, a tour of the Toyota plant commenced after lunch. Walking through the immense facility was fascinating, but of particular interest was Ms. Natsumi’s conversation with Plant President Yoshihisa Nagatani. This allowed Ms. Natsumi to learn more about what brought Toyota to San Antonio and how the plant came to become a part of the local community.
Lastly, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation opened their doors for the G3P fellow and discussed their work in bringing a variety of small and medium sized enterprises from around the world to San Antonio. Sarah Sanchez, Executive Vice President for Global Development, and Melina Gomez, Trade Development Manager, explained how the work of SAEDF has contributed over 5,200 jobs and $300 million to the San Antonio economy. Ms. Natsumi was impressed by the robust impact of a small but committed staff. Participants from SAEDF also found the time useful to ask Ms. Natsumi for her thoughts on enticing investment.
On Tuesday, Ms. Natsumi and her liaison to a break from professional appointments to see the city. Together, they stopped at Mission San Jose, the Alamo, the Institute of Texan Cultures, and even saw the Saga in the evening. It was a fittingly impressive end for a successful program.