Published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board on April 20, 2013
Government officials take a chance when they go overseas on business, whether it’s for fact-finding or drumming up business. What can seem worthwhile to them can seem like a vacation to cynics back home. But would-be critics in Harrisburg should think twice before complaining about Gov. Tom Corbett’s recent foreign foray.
Mr. Corbett and his party this week concluded a 10-day trade mission to South America, which does sound like a nice change from a Pennsylvania spring impersonating winter. Yet the time and effort seemed well spent.
The trip to Chile and Brazil was criticized from the start when Democrats complained that political influence had a hand in choosing who went.
Administration officials plausibly countered that the usual procedures for such trips were followed. Companies paid their own way as well as a fee, according to their size, to cover the costs of the mission. Those who qualified as potential exporters — and had complied with state tax laws — were accepted for the trip. A nonprofit economic development organization, the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, paid for the travel of state officials.
As the Post-Gazette’s Karen Langley reported from the scene, the governor and his team attended events from early morning and often into the night. When Mr. Corbett promoted Pennsylvania in front of audiences, he emphasized the state’s handy location to markets, reduced energy costs and skilled workforce. Mr. Corbett clearly worked hard in his role as chief salesman of the state.
Whether this effort will produce new business or Pennsylvania jobs remains to be seen, and that will take some time. But we won’t fault Mr. Corbett and his team for trying. Beating the bushes for business is what governors must do for their states, and the fact that the bushes are sometimes overseas is the nature of our global economy.
(Trade seeker: Corbett worked hard on the South American trip. Post Gazette Editorial Board. April 20, 2013.)