Gov. Chris Gregoire today joined delegates at a Washington-India Investment roundtable where she addressed the group and witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Intent between Washington's Department of Commerce and the Confederation of Indian Industries. The MOI was signed to promote and facilitate foreign direct investment between India and Washington state.
"There is great potential to make India a much more significant trading partner," Gregoire said. "We know there are untapped opportunities in areas like transportation and aerospace, as well as agriculture and life sciences. Events like the one we attended today put us face-to-face with key decision makers, and help open new doors for Washington state companies that have never been opened before. This was our opportunity to sell business leaders on the advantages of doing business in Washington state, and with Washington state companies."
Established 117 years ago, CII is one of India's primary business organizations with more than 7100 member organizations, including 33 companies with a presence in Washington.
Indian firms have already developed major financial partnerships with firms in Washington. One member company of CII, Infosys, is a global leader in business consulting, technology and engineering services. One of its 15 U.S. offices is in Bellevue, where Infosys has expanded even during the recession, adding 100 new employees in 2009.
"Direct investment by Indian firms in Washington and our companies creates jobs for our communities, many with better than average compensation in sectors such as life sciences, technology and advanced manufacturing," Commerce director Rogers Weed said. "Since 2008, the amount of Indian firms that have invested in the United States has grown by more than 50 percent and the trend remains strong -- that's a huge opportunity for Washington. Our primary competitive advantages for business are well-matched with India's fastest-growing sectors."
Weed moderated a panel discussion at the CII roundtable.
Mission participants from Washington's community and technical colleges conducted meetings to explore partnerships with Indian educational institutions. India's Ministry of Human Resource Development, with its initiative to establish 100 community colleges across India, is seeking to learn from Washington's success.
Washington is known for its community college training programs that prepare students for employment in high-demand industries such as aerospace and advanced manufacturing. India is working to better match skills to the jobs available, with a target of training 500 million people by 2022.
"When Indian students are deciding where to continue their studies, they know that Washington's extensive system of technical and community colleges will open the door to a successful future," said Stephanie Scoby of Green River Community College. "India is currently educating 200 million and their institutions simply don't have the capacity to meet the needs of every student interested in a college degree. Whether seeking a technical certificate that leads to a career or completing prerequisites for a four-year degree, we're ready to serve this growing market."
"Internationalization is a key initiative for Shoreline Community College, mirroring the importance to the state of Washington and Gov. Gregoire," said Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert. "We already have extensive connections around the world, bringing students to the U.S. as well as establishing partnerships with business, industry and universities. Expanding those connections to India is a logical next step for Shoreline, our students and the communities we serve."
Today, many Indian students seek training and schooling in the United States. At 104,000, India is second only to China in the number of students studying in the U.S.
Tomorrow, Gregoire will continue her trade mission in Delhi where she will meet with India's Ministry of Agriculture. Gregoire and the delegation will also attend the "Global Health and Life Science" seminar, where the governor will oversee the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association and the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises.
Visit Gregoire's online travel journal that includes travel notes from the governor and the rest of the delegation, the itinerary and photos of the trade mission. Access the travel journal by following the link on her homepage.