FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) spoke via Zoom to WANE 15 as he began “turn two” of his Asia trip to bring back jobs, economic and educational partnerships to the Hoosier state.

He talked to WANE 15’s Dirk Rowley from Seoul, South Korea after starting his journey in Taiwan.

This has been edited for clarity.

How is it going so far and where are you in the process of the trip?

We went into turn two, so to speak, to use an IMS analogy and we’re now in Seoul, Korea. This is the beautiful Bukhan Mountain Range over my left shoulder in the background. We’ve spent a few days prior in Taipei, Taiwan and hit the ground running last night when we flew in, had a meeting and then we’ll have a whole series of meetings over the next 48 hours and make our way back on Saturday to Indiana. But it has been full steam ahead. I call it a “fabulous” trip so far, because we’ve actually talked about a lot of “fabs” – semiconductor fabs – and a whole kind of value chain. Now we’ve shifted into turn two into Seoul, Korea. We’ve shifted to a lot of discussion around batteries and obviously with General Motors, Stellantis, Toyota, Honda and Subaru – five auto OEMs – it’s extremely critical that we get the supply chain not just in Indiana but America.

Is this step one towards a goal to land a new factory with 2,000 workers?

We’re way past the first step. These discussions have been going on literally for the last couple years with some intensity. We had discussions at our Global Economic Summit. We had these discussions at the Select USA conference. We’ve had these discussions back and forth via long distance and now we’re on the ground here both in Taiwan and in South Korea. It’s not just the factory of 2,000. That’s important. That’s what we’re really good at in the state of Indiana, as you know, being number one in manufacturing per capita, the number one state in America. We know how to do that. What we’re increasingly getting involved in is the research and development, the design, the testing, the manufacturing and the shipping, and we truly have it all in every quadrant of our state and in our capital city. We’ve got the ability with Trine, with Rose-Hulman, with Notre Dame, Purdue and with IU. The list goes on and on and on for regions of our state to be part of this. Truly it’s almost a golden age of discovery in terms of new development in semiconductors and batteries. For a state like Indiana to be in the heartland and to have access to talent and to have access to a low cost to do business, and then just a great kind of physical location to distribute your products, this is truly taking it to the next level in terms of not just manufacturing. Because we want the research and the design expertise to be close to that factory that you spoke of. But it’s not just the factory.

You mentioned the four quadrants. South Bend had the recent battery plant announcement and West Lafayette had the microchip announcement. On behalf of the people of northeast Indiana, what are you bringing home for us from vacation?

(Laughs) It’s not a vacation. I’ll tell you that. And it’s more than some lousy t-shirt. That would be easy. No, this is critically important. We’re over here talking about our RV industry – 80% of the North American market. Our orthopedics capital in America is in northeast Indiana. There’s Warsaw [Poland] and there’s Warsaw, Indiana and Warsaw, Indiana is a capital globally. And so for Zimmer-Biomet and chips, this is a critical part of the value chain. When you think about our institutions of higher learning, when you think about our K-12 system, we’re also sharing educational exchange opportunities with these different nations and companies. As we get around the world, tonight we’ll be able to celebrate with Samsung SDI, a South Korean company and Stellantis as a joint venture to go into Howard County. And so we’re proving whether it be Fort Wayne, whether it be Warsaw, whether it be West Lafayette, Kokomo, that everywhere in Indiana is extremely attractive for those reasons that I alluded to earlier: high access to talent, low cost of doing business and superior location.

Does this trip happen if Intel had picked Indiana instead of Ohio?

Yes. Absolutely. Intel’s mega-investment is part of a whole lot more coming. And again, we’re focused on the whole value chain and different sectors. SkyWater, who chose to locate at West Lafayette on Purdue’s campus, is also defense oriented. And oh, by the way, we’ve got Crane Naval Warfare Center in the state of Indiana. Very important to them. And so as you start to stitch this all together, it’s not one and done. It’s not, “Oh, good. We’ve got one.” This is: how do you commit not just to the way of the world today, but where it’s going for five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road? What we see is not just the opportunity that can come with it, but we’re also solving a supply chain challenge that’s global, and to be able to do that in Indiana, that’s a really proud moment for me to say: How can we help and then back it up?

So is the Ohio announcement a loss or is it good because they’re in the neighborhood and that builds the neighborhood?

You’re exactly right. It’s a win, actually, because it’s kind of the silicon heartland, if you will, and not just the valley anymore. For Indiana and Ohio and Michigan – the future of mobility could be defined in the Midwest. And so yes, we have this manufacturing prowess right now. But what is it going to look like in the future? And so when we sit down with these companies that are discovering that new ground, we want to be with them as we [Indiana and Ohio] both do it.

BONUS: Has the talk of Volkswagen’s Harvester Scout E/V reached your radar? Could that vehicle possibly be made again in Fort Wayne?

Everything is on our radar that has the potential for deep roots and long-lasting community commitment. Germany is on my list to go to – not tomorrow – but soon. As we continue to see this ecosystem evolve, Indiana continues to be on everyone’s shortlist because we have not just the experience, but we have the courage and the creativity to look into the future and say, “How can we help you solve your problem?” So everything is on my radar. And let me just say this, we don’t want to be everything to everyone. We want to be investing in where our true talents reside. And the Electric Vehicle is the future of mobility. It’s an area where we just knock it out of the park.