West Virginia has a strong business story to tell--it's one I will personally share during my upcoming investment mission to Europe, Oct. 10 - 22. This 13-day mission will take me to five countries: Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Our goals are to meet with companies currently doing business in our state, generate new jobs and create new investment opportunities here at home. I look forward to talking to the executives of Europe and showing them why West Virginia is a great place to invest.
We have shown we are serious about business. We've enacted pro-growth tax reforms, privatized workers' compensation and implemented other fiscally responsible measures that have enabled our state to close its 2012 fiscal year with a surplus of more than $100 million--making this the seventh year in a row with a surplus--without a tax increase.
These actions opened the door to business opportunity in West Virginia. Now I, along with the development professionals traveling with me, will reach out and let businesses in Europe know just what West Virginia has to offer.
This mission gives me an opportunity to express my personal thanks to companies that have already established operations here. More than 80 European companies have invested in our state. They represent a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, chemicals, construction, medical devices and metals. More than 10,000 hard-working West Virginians are employed by European companies.
In addition to strengthening ties with established business colleagues, we will meet face-to-face with prospective new partners to encourage them to consider investing in West Virginia. We will take part in two seminars, as well as one exhibition said to be the largest plastics trade show in the world. This mission is part of our ongoing effort to recruit new industries and the jobs they create to the state.
Some may ask why it is important that we undertake investment missions such as this one to Europe and last year's to Japan. I will let the results speak for themselves. Following our return from the mission to Japan, five companies announced expansions in the state. I hope West Virginia sees similar results from the mission to Europe this year.