Japan may be Grant County's Best Kept Secret

Posted on May 29, 2015

Moses Lake has a long history of Japanese culture and companies dating back to 1968 when Japan Airlines (JAL) began training pilots at the decommissioned Larson Air Force Base which had recently become the Grant County International Airport. Over the past 47 years JAL has continued to foster a friendship between Moses Lake and Japan and even helping to create the Moses Lake-Yonezawa Sister City relationship.

While JAL was the most visible Japanese company in Grant County – it’s hard to miss the circling Boeing 747’s – additional Japanese companies like Chemi-Con Materials, Takata, Moses Lake Industries and AstaReal also located facilities here.

Mitsubishi, the newest Japanese Company to make the move to Grant County, is partnering with AeroTEC to test the new Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). Mitsubishi plans to start bringing the MRJ to Grant County International Airport as soon as the jets are completed for a three-year testing and certification process.

Once Mitsubishi arrives, total employment in Grant County at Japanese owned companies will surpass 900. This represents close to 8% of total employment within the Moses Lake zip code where all five Japanese companies are located. If it was its own industry, Japanese companies would represent the 7th largest sector of the Moses Lake economy; just behind the hotel & restaurant sector and ahead of both the construction and wholesale trade sectors.

Later this year, in cooperation with the Port of Moses Lake, Emily Braunwart, Business Recruitment Manager for the Grant County EDC, will travel to Japan as part of Governor Inslee’s trade delegation. Braunwart and the team from the Port of Moses Lake plan to visit with as many of the local Japanese companies as time will permit. They will also be arranging meetings with Japanese companies that have expressed previous interest in a Grant County location.

“It will be great to visit the executives at these companies that employ so many people in Grant County,” said Braunwart. “I want to be able to thank them for the positive influence they have had on Moses Lake and learn what we can do to help their businesses and other Japanese businesses continue to grow and add jobs here.”

Prior to traveling as a member of the Governor’s delegation, Braunwart will accompany three high school students to Japan for the 34th Moses Lake-Yonezawa sister city student exchange. Braunwart and the students are currently involved in cultural classes taught by Ginny Hirai as preparation for their nine day stay in Yonezawa. While in Japan they will stay with host families and be immersed in the Japanese culture.

“It’s exciting to be able to learn more about the Japanese culture and to experience the country in a less formal environment,” said Braunwart. “When I am participating in the delegation it will give me that much more background and familiarity so I can be more effective when meeting with companies.” 

The Moses Lake-Yonezawa sister city student exchange is currently collecting donations for a dinner auction, which will be held on June 18th at Lineage Logistics (Columbia Colstor) 2730 W Marina Dr. Moses Lake. Tickets are $35 a person or $250 for a table of eight. All proceeds help fund the exchange student’s trip.

To register for the dinner auction contact 509-989-2287. To contribute to the sister city student exchange visit