PHOTO COURTESY THE CONSUL GENERAL OF JAPAN QUITE AN HONOR —From left, Kazuhiro Nakai, consul general of Japan in Miami; Keith A. Norden, Team Volusia Economic Development Corp. president and CEO; and Dave Woodward, executive director of the Florida Delegation, Southeast U.S./Japan Association, display a certificate showing Norden’s meritorious award from the government of Japan.

On behalf of the government of Japan, the consul general of Japan in Miami, Kazuhiro Nakai, presented the decoration of “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette” to Team Volusia Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Keith A. Norden, according to a news release from the consul general.

Norden is the longest-serving volunteer chairman of the board of the Florida Delegation, Southeast U.S./Japan Association Inc. (“SEUS/Japan”).

The prestigious honor, granted by the emperor of Japan, is conferred to meritorious Japanese citizens and foreign nationals who have made significant contributions in the promotion of friendly bilateral relations between Japan and foreign countries.

“Mr. Norden has built a wide and robust network of business development partners statewide and has been one of the most effective promoters of Japanese business in Florida,” said Nakai in the news release. “He has wisely leveraged this network to help Japanese companies considering expanding their business footprint by consulting on business sites and introducing them to local leaders.”

The conferment ceremony was held in early April at the consul general’s official residence in Coral Gables in the presence of Norden’s family and co-workers, consulate officials, and representatives of the Florida Delegation, Enterprise Florida and regional economic-development groups, the release said.

Norden’s engagement with the Japanese business community started when he joined the Japan-Virginia Society in 1992 and dedicated himself for 16 years to linking and expanding friendship between Japanese citizens and the local community, the release said.

After relocating to Florida in 2009, Norden joined the Florida Delegation of SEUS/Japan Association, and he assumed the chairmanship in September 2014.

“It is my great honor to receive this prestigious order from the Emperor of Japan and to have worked with Japanese partners for more than 30 years,” Norden said in the release.

“Japan remains the world’s third largest economy, our nation’s top foreign direct investment (FDI) country, the fourth largest trading partner and export market, and Florida’s fifth largest trading partner with over $6.6 billion in bi-lateral trade and of FDI,” said SEUS/Japan’s executive director, Dave Woodward, in the release. “Chairman Norden has done an outstanding job [. . .] of helping our organization and the state of Florida promote and expand friendly business ties with Japan.”

Since its founding in 1975, the mission of SEUS/Japan has been to promote trade, commerce, investment, and friendly relations in the areas of culture, industry, technology and commerce, between Japan, Florida and six other Southeastern member states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee), according to the release.

Florida will host this year’s 44th annual SEUS/Japan program in Orlando Nov. 16-19. This year’s gathering will be the first in-person meeting in the past three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is expected to attract several hundred business executives and government leaders from Japan and the member states.

For more information about SEUS/Japan, its annual joint meeting and membership programs, please call 786-235-8289 or visit online at www.fl-seusjapan.org.

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