Taiwan and Idaho : Closer than Imagined
Interview with Idaho Governor Brad Little
Brad Little always seems to have a friendly smile that erases any sense of distance one might feel talking with the governor of Idaho. He walks over says directly, "We can be friends!" On October 21 last year, Governor Little met with ROC President Tsai Ing-wen at the Office of the President. The next morning, he visited THL's corporate office in Xinyi District in his dedication to promote agricultural development in his state.
Idaho and Taiwan are geographically an ocean apart. But they have been close sister states for more than 35 years. Taiwan is Idaho's second largest export destination, with agricultural products accounting for the lion's share of imports from the US state.
Last year Taiwan-based THL and Jetton Biochemistry Co., Ltd. formed a joint venture to establish American Dairy Protein Supply in the US state of Idaho. Jetton Biochemistry General Manager Rover Lin says that the investment amount "will keep growing."
Governor Little says that he is "delighted" about the cooperation project and proud of Idaho's dairy industry. He notes that Idaho is the third-largest dairy producing state in the US and ranks first or second globally in dairy technology.
"Idaho has made revolutionary advances in modernized dairy processing, from machinery and equipment and feeding technology to water and nutrient management and supply systems," he says.
Governor Little notes that Idaho has listed dairy as a key industry. Borrowing a page from the potato and beef industries, the state has followed a route of steady refinement in the dairy sector with high expectations for the industry.
The two sides immediately hit it off. The investment is now moving forward and the plant is expected to be completed by the end of the year. But it didn't come easy.
Rover Lin says he visited 17 dairy-producing states in the US introduced by the American Institute in Taiwan. Idaho stood out from the pack.
Two years have passed since that visit, but the trip remains fresh for THL Group CEO Terence Chen's memory: "Right after landing we were greeted by representatives from the state departments of commerce and agriculture. They accompanied us for three full days as we toured around in a uniquely American-style coach bus." Chen says that he was deeply impressed and immediately said to Lin: "This is going to succeed!"
Governor Little said that Idaho is known not only for its hospitality, but also its spirit of "helping without interfering."
"Like the Taiwanese government, we all play the role of 'facilitators.' We won't prescribe a rigid plan. But we will provide any assistance a plant needs so their plans can be implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible."
From finding the best talent for a supply chain to identifying the best sub-contractors for a plant, Idaho will help companies accomplish their mission, says Governor Little. Just one year into his job as head of the state, he says that this is Idaho's style and way to survive.
"Our people are hardworking and innovative. But this region has always posed a challenge. We're far from ports and not many rail lines pass through the state. So we have to work smarter. We need to be more competitive and continue to invest in technology. And when investment comes, we try not to get in the way."
Governor Little says that his state takes pride in having one of the most hands-off governments. Businesses can quickly connect with farmers in Idaho. The state wants investors worldwide to know that the government will help pave the way for plant openings in the state. It also maintains world-class health management standards.
The current venture involves the establishment of an overseas plant by THL and Jetton Biochemistry. But the open-mindedness of both sides in the project inspires Rover Lin to see more possibilities ahead. He says the venture can serve as an Asian ambassador for Idaho and promote the state's high-quality dairy products throughout the region.