Mineta San Jose International Airport (Photo Credit: madrazz/Flickr)
You’ve heard the saying “time is money?” Well now the business community in the Silicon Valley will have more time as they’ll no longer have to drive to San Francisco’s airport to get across the Pacific. But, officials hope a new link to Japan will pay out more dividends than that for the California economy.
All Nippon Airways is now offering direct flights from San Jose to Tokyo. Business leaders and economic developers say the air service will help strengthen overseas relationships and create new opportunities. It’s a regional economic win.
“ANA’s new flight offers Silicon Valley companies an even more convenient and efficient way to conduct business in Asia,” said San Jose mayor Chuck Reed. “We hope this will help open new doors that can lead to more innovation, more jobs, and more success on both sides of the Pacific.”
Landing this deal was no easy feat. “We worked aggressively to recruit All Nippon Airways,” said Kim Walesh, Director of the San Jose Office of Economic Development. In fact, officials with the City of San Jose, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the San Jose Chamber of Commerce were in talks with ANA for five years.
Today, a delegation took off on the inaugural flight. Once in Japan, the group will have several meetings to explore relationships with the technology industries and reinforce relationships with Japanese companies.
— Christina(@N2F79) January 11, 2013
“There is a lot of support for our companies to expand in Japan,” said Walesh. “While the delegation is there, we will be doing an ‘Invest in San Jose’ seminar for Japanese clean tech companies. We have over 100 RSVP’s. There’s a tremendous amount of interest in established and emerging companies in clean tech in Japan and coming over to the Silicon Valley and being a part of this environment here.”
Prior to today’s flight, U.S. Ambassador to Japan and former CEO of the Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, John Roos, held a roundtable with clean tech companies in Silicon Valley as an “opportunity for these companies to serve markets in Japan and to expand in Japan,” added Walesh.
“Right now, Japan’s government is extraordinarily committed to renewable energy especially solar and biomass and hydro and energy efficiency technology. So these are real areas of expertise for Silicon Valley and for that matter, California.”
Walesh says securing ANA is only the beginning. “Clean tech linkages are a real bright spot. So are semi-conductor, semi-conductor equipment, computer networking, software, RND manufacturing, there’s a whole range of linkages between the Silicon Valley and Japan.”
She also hopes the international air service will help secure additional airlines and flights.
“Even though we are Skyping and video conferencing, we still know the importance of face-to-face meetings for innovation and for business development,” said Walesh. “So our companies need to travel, especially internationally, will escalate and there’s going to be a strong demand for service. More flights will also mean the economic benefit will be greater.”
“San Jose is already the most international city in America, if not the world. We lead the nation in exports per capita,” said Walesh. “We also lead the nation in global connections of residents. In fact, CEO’s for Cities recently released a study a few months ago. If you look at the share of college educated residents born in another country, 50 percent are San Jose residents. The closest place is Miami at 30 percent. So securing additional flights will be a top priority.”