story by Roby Brock, with Talk Business & Politics, a content partner with The City Wire
Gov. Mike Beebe is heading overseas for his third European trade mission in five years. In a recent Talk Business & Politics interview, Beebe said he will travel to London, Paris and the Czech Republic beginning July 12.
“Hopefully, they won’t kill me like they did in the China trip a couple of years ago. We were 11 days in China, 13 days counting the travel times. We were in eight different hotels in eight different cities and provinces,” Beebe said.
Beebe traveled to London, Paris and Hamburg in 2009 for a series of high-level meetings with existing companies doing business in Arkansas and new ones he hoped to land. The governor also visited France in 2012 for an agricultural related economic trip to meet with French government officials interested in promoting food exports and research between the two entities. That trip also included visits with Dassault Falcon Jet, which announced a $60 million expansion of its jet completion campus in Little Rock several months later.
Also in 2012, Beebe made his earlier referenced extensive economic development tour of China in an effort to open up talks for more business exchange.
The upcoming European trade trip will last nine days from July 12-21.
Beebe plans to attend the London Farnborough International Air Show — one of the world’s largest aerospace and aviation manufacturing trade shows in the world. Representatives from several Arkansas companies will also attend, and Beebe plans to travel to France to meet again with Dassault Falcon Jet, the Paris-based high-end aircraft builder that has one of the largest international footprints in Arkansas.
“We have expanded that [Dassault] with the potential for even further expansion and maybe even a supplier there too,” Beebe said.
The Czech Republic is new territory for Arkansas economic development officials, but the former eastern bloc country sports growing manufacturers, including gun-related and automobile-related companies.
“They’ve had very little, if any, state gubernatorial contact in the Czech Republic and there are a number of businesses that are looking at a North American presence,” Beebe said. “It’s a fertile field because everyone is going to China and Taiwan and Paris and London and all those other places. We’d like to get in on the ground floor of what the Czech Republic companies might be interested in.”