CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An upcoming 13-day trade mission to Europe will be an opportunity to thank the more than 80 companies with investments in West Virginia, as well as a chance to recruit new business interests, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Tuesday.
Tomblin announced the trade mission to Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy Oct. 10-22, saying it will be an chance to meet with European investors and business interests "on their home court."
"We do have many European companies that are currently doing business in West Virginia, with several thousand West Virginians employed," Tomblin said.
It will be Tomblin's second foreign trade mission as governor. He noted that the previous mission, to Japan in June 2012, resulted in more than $100 million of new investment in the state.
Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said the mission entourage will be fairly small, with the governor, an aide, three representatives of the state Development Office, and a security officer.
"We're very excited about this. The planning is still evolving. We're literally still scheduling meetings as we sit here today," Burdette told reporters.
In addition to more than 20 private meetings with company executives and investors, Tomblin will host trade seminars in Italy and Switzerland and will attend the K Trade Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany, the largest international trade fair for manufacturers of plastic and rubber products.
The state Polymer Alliance Zone will have a booth at the trade fair, Burdette said.
"We want to take the message that this is one of the largest ethane fields in the world," Burdette said, referring to the Marcellus Shale region. Ethane, a byproduct of natural gas fracking, is the primary component in ethylene, the main raw material in producing plastics.
While part of the mission will be to thank companies currently investing in West Virginia, Burdette said, "We have several prospects the governor will hopefully visit with that we think are in the final stages of decision-making."