Governor McDonnell to Promote Virginia in Europe
– Governor's First International Trade Mission will Promote Virginia's Pro-Business Climate; Encourage Investment and Job Creation in Commonwealth;, First Lady to Tout Tourism, Wine and Virginia Product –
European Companies are Largest Foreign Investors in Commonwealth; Governor Will Also Discuss Offshore Wind Energy with European Leaders
RICHMOND- Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that he will lead a week-long marketing mission from July 17th through the 24th to the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany. First Lady Maureen McDonnell will focus her efforts on tourism and wine promotion during the Netherlands and United Kingdom legs of the trip. Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng will accompany the Governor for the entire trip. He will also be joined during his visit in London by Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and Virginia Tourism Corporation President and CEO Alisa Bailey.
"In today's global economy it is critical that we market Virginia products not just domestically but overseas as well. During the 2010 General Assembly session I asked the legislature for the tools necessary to expand our presence in essential, growing markets, including establishing trade offices in China, India and the United Kingdom. Our foremost priority is getting Virginians back to work, and we recognize that job creation cannot be accomplished within the confines of the United States alone. We need to sell Virginia products to the world, and invite the world to invest and create jobs right here." said Governor McDonnell. "This trade mission is an excellent opportunity to strengthen Virginia's relationship with European companies that already have a Virginia presence and to share Virginia's story with prospective corporate investors. Over the past six years, 49 percent of new capital investment of projects worked by Virginia has come from international companies. International companies help us create jobs for our citizens and strengthen and diversify Virginia's economy, and I look forward to this opportunity to promote Virginia in Europe."
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore also commented, "I am honored to support Virginia's diverse agricultural community during Governor McDonnell's mission to Europe. With the Governor's and First Lady's assistance, we'll be aggressively promoting Virginia wines, pork, peanuts, seafood, and several other specialty food products through one-on-one meetings with potential customers and by featuring those products at several receptions where they can be sampled. Although Virginia wines have been available in the United Kingdom for about a year and our gourmet peanuts are just entering the country, that market offers great potential for future growth by those two industries. Likewise, our pork and seafood industries have opportunities to further expand their current exports to Europe and to sell new products in the United Kingdom. We're going to help our producers capitalize on international sales opportunities so that they can create more jobs and opportunities for their companies."
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng noted, "The story of Virginia began as an economic venture – and we have a great story to tell about why Virginia remains the best place in the world to do business over 400 years later. The countries of Europe are strong, economic allies – and in this globally competitive environment, we are seizing every opportunity for international investment into the Commonwealth as well as opening markets overseas for Virginia businesses and products."
European companies are, collectively, the largest investors in Virginia, having invested $14 billion of the $18.7 billion total international investment in the Commonwealth.
The Governor's itinerary for the week includes meetings with key European business executives and government leaders, as well as a visit to the Farnborough Air Show, one of the world's largest global aviation events. He will meet with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and UK energy ministers to discuss wind energy. Governor McDonnell will also host a Virginia reception for business executives, and join the First Lady for an event designed specifically to showcase the Commonwealth's wine and tourism industries.
International visitors are key to Virginia's $19 billion tourism industry. Virginia achieved a 16 percent increase in overseas travelers in 2009, the greatest percentage increase for international visitors amongst the states and territories surveyed, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. International visits to Virginia grew from 329,000 in 2008 to 380,000 in 2009. Virginia moved up from 18 to 14 in ranking for overseas visitors to U.S. states.
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