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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
April 24, 2024

Market Now

[Herald Interview] Thoughtful approach keeps winning Korean investments in Indiana

  • PUBLISHED :January 24, 2024 - 09:29
  • UPDATED :January 24, 2024 - 09:29
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Jillian Turner, the senior vice president of global partnerships and investments at the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (Indiana Economic Development Corp.)

"Breaking bread for some good talks has been super important in building solid relationships with Korean businesses, creating a trust that keeps them coming back to invest more," said Jillian Turner, the senior vice president of global partnerships and investments at the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Turner emphasized the importance of interpersonal dynamics in understanding the nuanced needs of Korean companies during a recent phone interview with the Korea Herald.

Her primary responsibility involves guiding companies through the investment process in Indiana and bolstering relationships with foreign governments. Turner joined the Indiana Secretary of Commerce on a trip to Korea last year, engaging in crucial business meetings with firms like Samsung SDI.

Indiana's business landscape is increasingly marked by the presence of South Korean firms, with 14 companies already established and more on the horizon. This includes high-profile ventures like Samsung SDI's investment in constructing multiple EV battery manufacturing facilities in Kokomo and New Carlisle, in collaboration with industry giants Stellantis and General Motors. These projects, particularly the $3.2 billion EV battery manufacturing operations in New Carlisle announced in October last year, have made headlines for choosing Indiana over other lucrative offers, such as Michigan’s tempting $1 billion subsidy bid for a similar battery facility.

“Samsung SDI’s back-to-back investments in Indiana go beyond mere transactions and subsidies. They reflect our comprehensive, thoughtfully crafted business climate and our partnership ethos,” she said.

Catering to the specific needs of companies like Samsung SDI has been crucial, according to Turner.

“Samsung SDI deeply considers their employees’ needs, from educational opportunities for the technicians' families to their overall life in Indiana. We resonate with these values and strive to address them comprehensively,” she said.

Indiana’s appeal also stems from its operational efficiencies, like a favorable regulatory environment and its tailored education and talent strategy.

Indiana’s regulatory framework avoids additional burdens beyond federal requirements, and the team comes hands-on in guiding companies through every step of the regulatory process. Then there is Ivy Tech, a community college network renowned for its specialization in advanced manufacturing.

"We are working to give students in Ivy Tech a specific curriculum to engage directly with machinery that defines the core of Samsung SDI's operations in Indiana," Turner said.

Beyond education, IECD is collaborating with local institutions like the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to introduce bilingual resources, making essential services like obtaining a driver's license more accessible by providing instructions in Korean.

In July last year, IEDC opened a new office in Seoul, its eighth international office led by bilingual industry veterans, with the aim of attracting foreign direct investment in sectors like energy, mobility, hard tech, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences.

"Leading our Seoul office is Narai, our director, who brings a solid 15-year track record in international dealings with both companies and governments, especially in advanced manufacturing. Working alongside her is Max, our manager, whose experience in energy sectors complements our team's ability to align with the technological and industrial nuances of our partners,” she said.

By Moon Joon-hyun (mjh@heraldcorp.com)

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