Governor Bruce Rauner joined Japan's Consul General to the Midwest at Rend Lake College for a workforce and education roundtable.
They were joined Wednesday by educational leaders, employers and economic development officials from southern Illinois.
Governor Rauner says southern Illinois is already home to ten Japanese firms employing over four-thousand workers. He says the region has plenty to offer foreign investors.
"Here in southern Illinois, we have incredible people, incredible workforce. We have an incredible location, in terms of the center of the United States, incredible transportation network with the rivers, with the highways, with the rail system, quick access to St. Louis, quick access to the rest of the Midwest."
Consul General Naoki Ito says companies like Magnum Steel Works in Mt. Vernon and Aisin Manufacturing in Marion have good track records in southern Illinois.
"I'm sure we can send a really good signal, message to Japan, so that there is going to be an increasing number of Japanese companies to come and enjoy the real, say, beauty of Illinois, here downstate."
To increase foreign investments, Governor Rauner says Illinois must have a partnership between community colleges, local high schools and local employers. He says classes need to train students in the jobs where there are a shortage of workers, such as computer programmers, machinists and welders.
Rend Lake College President Terry Wilkerson says his school is already partnering with area high schools to train future workers.
"For example in automotive they don't have the facilities to necessarily do all the training and the things you'd really like to see those students get. They don't have the opportunities necessarily at that level. So, we bus them here."
Rauner says he hopes recent trade missions around the world will increase foreign investments in the state, but the governor says he's also trying to lure businesses from closer to home.
"I've also been going to California and New York. They have more regulations than we do. They have a higher tax burden and we're bring companies from the east coast and west coast to invest in southern Illinois and we've got a huge opportunity for more growth."
SIU-Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno says he understands his institution's role in economic development. He says prosperity is going to be determined by a triple helix.
"The intersection of government, higher education and industry. That winding together of those three elements is what's going to create and drive incredible economic prosperity. We're committed at SIU to do that."
Montemagno says his academic reorganization plan is designed to allow SIU-C to realize its full capabilities and meet the needs of students for the future.