For the first time in its history, the Southeast U.S.- Japan Association will have its annual conference in Savannah. 

The conference was a topic of discussion during the Savannah City Council meeting on Sept. 25, when the council voted to provide a Silver Sponsorship of $25,000 through the Savannah Airport Commission for the conference. 

Under President Jimmy Carter's term, the Southeast U.S. Japan Association was established in 1976 to promote investment, friendship, trade, and understanding between Southeastern states and Japan. The Southeastern states involved consist of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

This organization runs with government officials and top business men and women from both associateships.

Georgia hosted the first annual meeting in Atlanta in 1976 and hosted again in 1990 and 2004. This engagement is history-making in Savannah as it will be the first time the event is held outside of Atlanta in the state of Georgia. 

"Over the years, we have fluctuated between the two general areas where the meeting will be held. Sometimes we go to Japan and sometimes they come to us," Mayor Eddie DeLoach said. "We take select business people to Japan and show them a better understanding on how to break off into this type of business. Same thing with Japan, they bring a select group here and we show them how our business runs."

The event will take place at the Savannah Civic Center from Oct. 20-23. 

"At their request, a few other council members and myself flew to Japan and we found out that there is a lot of excitement about this," Council member Julian Miller said. "The Japanese businesses invest more in the U.S. than any other country. They understand where we're going with this. We have the same problems as they do which are hiring, training, and retaining employee. Sounds familiar right?"

When the event takes place, officials will take a tour of important business spots throughout Savannah.

"We'ĺl show them the things we do here to help them. We have things like Savannah State, Armstrong, Georgia Southern, Savannah Tech and Woodville Tompkins High School. The high school for example, is a job focused high school. The students their normal diploma while also having the opportunity to train for their specific jobs. For instance, Cisco, the computer system has a program at the school," Miller said. "This is a state-sponsored event, but the city of Savannah will have our moment and make it worth while."

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