Gov. Robert Bentley returned Friday evening from a six-day trip to Japan to meet with companies with ties to Alabama.
It was the governor's first trip to the country that's home to two of Alabama's biggest employers -- Toyota and Honda.
"The trip was successful," Gov. Bentley told reporters during a press conference in his office. "The trip was really about strengthening our relationships with our partners there and I think we did that."
The governor wouldn't go into specifics about what all was discussed with specific companies but did say he had conversations with one company about entering into partnerships with research institutions in Alabama.
He met with officials from Otsuka Holdings, which is the parent company of Pharmavite. Pharmavite manufactures vitamins and opened a facility in Opelika in June.
"This company is a tremendously large company," Gov. Bentley said. "They make a lot of medications, not just vitamins."
The governor said what drew him to Otsuka Holdings is that they spend most of their time on research and development not just the marketing of their products. Gov. Bentley said he discussed having the company partner with universities like the University of Alabama-Birmingham or the University of South Alabama because of their ties to the medical fields.
Gov. Bentley also said he met with the top executives of Daikin, an air conditioner and chemical manufacturer that operates MDA Manufacturing Inc. in Decatur.
The governor mentioned that the state had courted a company that Daikin eventually bought and said that could be a good sign for future economic development.
"I had been to Texas to talk to [Goodman Manufacturing] and we were really interested and they sold to Daikin," Gov. Bentley said. "So I told Daikin that we would certainly be interested in that company coming to Alabama to produce the air conditioners in this state."
The governor said he wasn't positive on how much the trip cost taxpayers. The original estimate was $55,000. The governor traveled with Alabama's Secretary of Commerce, another employee of the Department of Commerce and two members of his executive security detail.
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