Gov. Tom Corbett will visit France and Germany on the first trade mission of his administration with a delegation that includes Pittsburgh business and tourism executives to rally interest and investment in Pennsylvania.
Under a marketing effort dubbed “Best of the World Pittsburgh Partnership,” Corbett announced the trip during a news conference on Friday in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, organized by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to capitalize on a series of “best of” magazine lists that feature Pittsburgh as a “most livable” or “must see” destination.
The governor said he needs to take the trip personally because the cultural expectation among business leaders in Europe is to meet directly with top-ranking government officials. The trip is scheduled to start later this month.
“It reinforces with them that there is an interest by this region and state in having their business here, but we’re also trying to develop markets for our companies over there,” Corbett said.
Estimating the trip’s success will take time. His goals include persuading German luxury sports car maker Porsche to expand its parts distribution plant in Northampton County and encouraging growth of French vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur’s facility in Swiftwater, Monroe County.
Ellyn Schindler, a Sanofi spokeswoman, said Corbett is scheduled to have lunch with the corporation’s CEO during his trip, but there are no plans to expand its Pennsylvania facility. A Porsche spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Corbett said low energy prices, including natural gas and electricity, should make Pennsylvania attractive to businesses looking to relocate.
Greg Babe, CEO of Bayer Corp. in Robinson, said Corbett and others on the trip will promote Pittsburgh’s distinction of bouncing back from the Great Recession better than most of the nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas.
Team Pennsylvania Foundation, a Harrisburg nonprofit, is organizing and paying for the trip to promote the Pittsburgh region’s strengths in manufacturing, financial and business services, health care and energy.
A Team Pennsylvania spokesman could not be reached for comment. Corbett, whose wife, Susan, will accompany him on the trip, said there will be no expense to taxpayers.
France and Germany were selected as destinations because they are Pennsylvania’s fourth-largest export market and are leading sources of direct foreign investment, according to VisitPittsburgh, an agency that promotes Allegheny County tourism. There are more German companies with plants or other significant presence in the region than from any other country.
VisitPittsburgh, the region’s tourism promotion agency, is devoting $250,000 toward a new campaign to market Pittsburgh to potential visitors. It includes a five-minute, in-flight video featuring the Pittsburgh region to be shown on Delta Air Lines flights in May and an advertisement in the June issue of Sky, Delta’s in-flight magazine.
Delta operates Pittsburgh’s lone nonstop connection to Europe: a flight to Paris that will resume four flights a week on March 24, ending a winter hiatus.
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