Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he will lead a delegation of Missouri businesses, industry leaders and higher education institutions to France, the United Kingdom and Belgium from June 14 through June 22.
"The world wants what Missouri makes. By connecting Missouri businesses with customers in foreign markets and attracting new investments from around the globe, we can continue to create good jobs here at home," Gov. Nixon said. "Through strict fiscal discipline and strategic investments in economic development, Missouri's exports have reached record highs, while our unemployment rate has hit a four-year low. Expanding exports is vital to keeping our economy moving forward."
The past two calendar years, 2011 and 2012, were the best record for export sales by Missouri businesses, with a total of $28 billion in Missouri-made goods sold around the world during those two years.
Missouri exports to Europe totaled more than $2.5 billion in 2012, making up nearly 20 percent of Missouri's export market. In fact, Belgium and the United Kingdom are Missouri's 6th and 7th largest trading partners, respectively. Customers in Belgium bought more than $394 million worth of Missouri goods in 2012. Customers in the United Kingdom bought more than $351 million worth of Missouri goods in 2012, a 15 percent increase over 2011. France is Missouri's 14th largest trading partner, having purchased $225 million worth of Missouri goods in 2012, a 21 percent increase over 2011.
Joining Gov. Nixon on the delegation will be: First Lady Georganne Nixon; Mike Downing, Acting Director, Department of Economic Development; Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard (R-Joplin); and State Senator Ryan McKenna (D-Jefferson County).
The Missouri delegation will also include representatives of Missouri businesses, industry leaders and higher education institutions, including Automated Motion Inc. (AMI); Boeing Company; DRS Technologies; Essex Industries; F-Stop Corporation, Kansas City Area Development Corp; Kansas City International Airport; LMI Aerospace; Mead & Hunt, Inc.; PAS Technologies; Sabreliner; St. Louis Lambert International Airport; St. Louis Regional Chamber; and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
In France, Gov. Nixon will attend the 50th International Paris Air Show, the world's leading aviation and space industry event, and meet with major aerospace industry leaders and foreign investors who have, or are considering, significant investments in Missouri. The Governor will also meet with U.S. Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin, the Confederation of French Industries International, and the American Chamber of Commerce.
"Designing, building and supplying aviation components creates good jobs in southwest Missouri, and throughout the state," said Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard (R-Joplin), a member of the delegation. "As a delegate on a number of successful foreign trade missions, I have seen their value to Missouri businesses and workers firsthand. By strengthening our state's role in the global aerospace industry, we can continue to bring more jobs home to Missouri. We have a well trained, highly-skilled workforce in the Show-Me State, and I look forward to promoting this critical asset to international aviation and aerospace leaders during this trade mission."
"Essex Industries has been a leading supplier of products to the aerospace and defense industry since 1947, based right out of our hometown of St. Louis, Missouri," said Keith Guller, Chief Executive Officer of Essex Industries, Inc. "The Paris Air Show provides us the opportunity to build upon and strengthen our relationship with customers and clients around the world."
While in France, Gov. Nixon and other members of the delegation also will travel to the Normandy American Cemetery to honor the American soldiers who died in World War II and are buried there, including 232 Missourians.
In the United Kingdom, Gov. Nixon is scheduled to meet with U.K. Trade and Invest, personnel from the U.S. Embassy; Minister Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; and the British-American Business Group.
"From agriculture to aerospace, the world's top companies can be found in St. Louis," said Steve Johnson, Executive Vice President, Economic Development & Marketing Strategies for the St. Louis Regional Chamber. "This business development mission allows us to build on these relationships so that we can continue to grow the economies of the St. Louis region and Missouri."
In Belgium, Gov. Nixon is scheduled to meet with U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman; personnel from NATO Command; and with members of the American Chamber of Commerce and American European Commission Association.
The Governor, First Lady and members of the delegation will arrive in Paris on Saturday, June 15. The delegation will travel to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 19 and then to Belgium on Thursday, June 20. The delegation will return to the United Kingdom on Friday, June 21 and depart for Missouri on Saturday, June 22. Travel costs for Gov. and Mrs. Nixon will be covered by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in Missouri. State taxpayer funds will not be used.
"This trade mission will produce meaningful discussions with our European peers leading to enhanced partnerships and global competency for our students and faculty in emerging fields of research, education and technology transfer," said Dr. Gail Hackett, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "These discussions will help us ensure that our students, faculty and researchers can compete and win in the global economy."
"Kansas City's economy continues to grow, in part because of our ability to attract business from companies around the world," said Robert Marcusse, President and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Corp. "This trade mission gives us the opportunity to promote Kansas City's talented workforce, strong technology sectors, and key manufacturing and logistics assets."
Gov. Nixon has made creating opportunities for Missouri businesses to sell their products around the globe a top priority of his administration. The Governor led successful trade missions to China (October 2011) and Brazil (April 2012), which resulted in agreements to sell $4.6 billion in Missouri goods to Chinese consumers, and the state's first-ever trade agreement with the State of São Paulo, Brazil's financial capital.
This past March, Gov. Nixon led a trade mission to the Republic of Korea and the Republic of China (Taiwan) that resulted in agreements to sell a total of $1.9 billion in Missouri goods to Korean and Taiwanese consumers over the next four years.
To continue this momentum, the Governor's Fiscal Year 2014 budget calls for $2.3 million in funding to help businesses identify and access new export opportunities and to expand the state's presence in emerging markets around the world.
For more information about expanding export opportunities for Missouri businesses, visit www.mo.gov