Trade Mission Journal

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The following is a recap of the Team PA-supported trade mission by the Corbett administration to France and Germany.

Day 1 – Lyon, France
Day 2 – Lyon, France
Day 3 – Lyon and Paris
Day 4 – Paris, France; Stuttgart, Germany
Day 5 – Stuttgart
Day 6 – Düsseldorf, Germany

Day 1 – Lyon, France

A daily recap of the state's trade mission to France and Germany.

After an overnight flight most of the group arrived in Lyon at noon.

At our first event, Governor Corbett was greeted by the Rhône-Alpes Region officials and had the chance to tour Pennsylvania’s new foreign investment offices. The offices will be located in the Oxygen Tower in Lyon, which is also home to the World Trade Center, a natural fit for Pennsylvania.

After a chance to get used to the five-hour time difference (normally six, but Europe doesn’t have daylight savings time until next weekend) the group got to meet each other at a reception at the hotel before having a dinner with Rhône-Alpes officials.

It was a nice start to what will be a busy week!

Day 2 – Lyon, France (Our first full day here)

A highlight of our first day on the trade mission was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the one of the French governments and Pennsylvania.

Prior to the ceremony, Gov. Corbett had a one-on-one appointment with President Jean Jack Queyranne, both of whom later signed the MOU between the region and Pennsylvania.

In France the country is divided into 27 regions, with Rhône-Alpes being the second largest (with a population of just over 6 million residents). The MOU was a reaffirmation of an agreement originally drafted by Governor Rendell in 2006 and promotes a strengthened relationship between the governmental bodies and promotes the cooperation of economic, social, and cultural resources.

After the signing of the MOU there was an investment seminar where close to 200 interested individuals came to learn more about the opportunities to expand their business to Pennsylvania. The Governor, Secretary C. Alan Walker of DCED, Gene Barr of the PA Chamber of Business & Industry, Dennis Yablonsky of the Allegheny Conference, and Tom Morr of Select Greater Philadelphia all spoke about the benefit of operating in Pennsylvania.

Existing French companies with subsidiaries in the commonwealth also talked about their positive experience. One of the trade mission participants responded, “That was like a Pennsylvania Pep Rally….and it was awesome!”

The governor spent the afternoon meeting with French companies who have existing operations in Pennsylvania in “retention meetings” and also had a few meetings with prospects. Our Economic Development partners also engaged in what one referred to as “economic development speed dating” as they spent 15 minutes each with prospects interested in their region over the course of 2 hours.

We began our first full day on the Governor’s Business Development Mission with a great breakfast hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). The breakfast was with Pennsylvania companies that have operations in the Lyon area.

We spent the majority of the day at the Rhône-Alpes Regional Headquarters in Lyon. It is an impressive “green facility” that houses the staff and assembly hall for the region. After a great welcome by a variety of officials on Sunday, the delegation got to work as many of the companies spread throughout the region to meet with potential customers and other delegation members met with the Rhône-Alpes Regional Leadership.

Today was an easy logistical day; starting tomorrow we will visit 3 cities in 4 days in 2 countries.

Our friends at the Rhône-Alpes have been fantastic hosts and we look forward to joining them for dinner tonight. We have also been blessed with great support from our French Investment Office, administered by the Salveo Group. They have provided great meetings for the Governor and our investment staff and provided extra hands on the ground to make things run smoothly. Merci Beaucoup to Johann, Remy, and Kaltoum!

You can read real-time updates from the mission on Twitter by looking for the hashtage #PATM2012.

Day 3 – Lyon and Paris

Day 3 of the mission got off to an early start as we departed for the “Plastics Valley,” which lies an hour away from Lyon near the French-Swiss border.

This area boasts 900 companies within the region with sales of more than $4 billion.

After a tour of Grosfillex – which has operations here in the Lebanon and Reading areas – our group presented to other plastics manufacturers at the Plastics Technical Center of Innovation. The center hosts the region’s training capabilities that allow it to be a leader in Europe.

Gov. Corbett, DCED Sec. Walker, Deputy Sec. Wilfred Muskens of the Office of International Business Development, and Dennis Yablonskky, Allegheny Conference, all pitched Pennsylvania as a location to grow their international markets to North America.

The leaders of Grosfillex and Millet (another French plastics company with operations in PA) also offered testimonials on their positive Pennsylvania experiences.

After a picturesque drive back to Lyon, Gov. Corbett and Secretary Walker, along with a Team PA representative, met with the leadership of sanofi pasteur. sanofi employs over 100,000 employees in a hundred counties with just over 2,000 located in Pennsylvania. Sanofi is the 2nd largest French-owned employer in Pennsylvania.

During our visits to the Plastics Valley and sanofi, First Lady Susan Corbett led a delegation of tourism officials from the commonwealth to present to over 25 tour operators in Lyon, the first of three such events during the mission. These visits are designed to raise Pennsylvania’s profile as a destination for international tourists.

After a two-hour train ride the delegation arrived in Paris for a quick, 22-hour stop.

First on the agenda was a reception with alumni of Pennsylvania universities. It was great to hear stories about how our commonwealth’s universities helped shape leaders of the Parisian business community. (Don’t worry though, the governor made a pitch for them to come back and invest in PA!)

It was another great, busy day by bus, train, taxi, and automobile. Don’t forget to look for real-time updates from the mission on Twitter by looking for the hashtage #PATM2012.

Day 4 – Paris, France; Stuttgart, Germany

Wednesday began with a morning “Energy & Innovation Roundtable” with French companies.

It was hosted by the French-American Foundation at their offices, just across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower. Governor Corbett delivered remarks to a packed room and then answered questions from audience members.

He spoke about the administration’s upcoming development of an Energy Plan and Shell’s recent selection of PA for their “Cracker Plant.” After the breakfast meeting, the group split up with some businesses, economic development groups, and universities to talk with French business prospects in the Defense and Aerospace Industry.

Simultaneously, the governor and DCED Secretary Alan Walker met with United States Ambassador Rivkin. Later, other members of the delegation met with investment prospects as the governor spoke to French television about his business mission.

First Lady Susan Corbett led a group of tourism officials from throughout the state to meet with French tour operators and reporters. Mrs. Corbett began the event by extolling the tourism attributes of the commonwealth before individual presentations by the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, VisitPhilly, and VisitPittsburgh. The Philadelphia Union soccer team was also represented at the event.

After a busy morning and early afternoon most of the delegation boarded the train again and headed east to Stuttgart for a day of meetings and tours tomorrow. Only two days left!

It was another great, busy day by bus, train, taxi, and automobile. Don’t forget to look for real-time updates from the mission on Twitter by looking for the hashtag #PATM2012.

Day 5 – Stuttgart

We spent our first full day in Germany the same way we began the first full day in France, with a breakfast meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce Abroad (AmCham) members from Stuttgart. AmCham assisted us in brining together Pennsylvania businesses that have operations near Stuttgart. Some examples of businesse that attended include Glatfelter and Armstrong World Industries. It was great to hear about their experiences operating in Germany and how globalizing their business helped them to remain competitive during a challenging period in the economy. We also had the opportunity to reconnect with several Pennsylvania businesses that were on the mission looking or international customers/clients in France and Germany. One company told us, “If the train wasn’t leaving in Paris, we’d still be there talking to the customer.” Many of the businesses feel certain that they will get new international business as a result of the mission. That’s music to our ears! And exactly why we are here!

After a great breakfast we traveled across the city to hold an “Invest in PA” event. Close to 100 German businesses attended to learn more about the potential to expand their businesses operations to Pennsylvania. The Governor opened the event and was warmly received by the audience and received a formal welcome from the government of Baden-Württemberg. The program followed the same format of our previous investment event in Lyon, but with the addition of Team PA investor John Moran. John talked about his logistics business (Moran Industries) and the logistical advantages to operating your business in Pennsylvania. It was a great addition to the program!

The group split up in several different directions halfway through the investment seminar. Our economic development partners from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh stayed behind to talk to prospective investors as the Governor lead a group to meet with the leadership at Porsche. Porsche recently located a parts distribution facility to the Lehigh Valley and the Governor thanked them for their investment and let them know that Pennsylvania was there to work with them and help them grow as an auto manufacturer.

During the Porsche meeting DCED Secretary Walker took time to meet with Secretary Ingo Rust of the Baden-Württemberg government. After that the group rejoined for an Energy Roundtable to meet with German companies interested in the potential of the energy market in Pennsylvania. After the roundtable the Governor ended his day by meeting with his counterpart in Baden-Württemberg, Minister President Winfried Kretschmann. The two discussed their homes similarities, including its strong manufacturing base and support of small and medium sized businesses.

We all just boarded a late night train and are on our way to our final destination Dusseldorf. It’s been a great, busy 5 days and we are looking for a good finish on Friday!

Day 6 – Düsseldorf, Germany

We began our last day of the Trade Mission with another breakfast organized by AmCham with potential Pennsylvania investment clients. After introductions, it was great to see the networking that took place. One business came back to our table and said, “I have been trying to meet with that business for months. I finally did. I think we can do $100 million of business for them.” That is a pretty good return on investment!

We then held the Düsseldorf edition of our “Invest in PA” event to a packed house at their Chamber of Commerce.

After the investment event a group from the delegation went to the headquarters of Bayer Corporation. Bayer employs over 100,000 worldwide, with over 3,000 in Pennsylvania. Their North American headquarters are located in Pittsburgh and they have four other sites throughout the commonwealth. They had the opportunity to share with the governor and delegation the issues that are critical to their future growth in PA.

After meeting with Bayer leadership we went next door to Bayer’s on-site restaurant where we had a lunch with members of the Amerika Haus. Amerika Haus is a fellow P3 (public-private partnership) that seeks to improve German and American cultural and business relationships.

While we finished up at Bayer another group from the delegation met with German businesses interested in the potential of Marcellus Shale. DCED Secretary Walker led the conversation and many businesses held follow-up meetings to explore more opportunities.

Our final official event of the mission was a visit to the German headquarters of QVC. QVC began its German operations in 1996 and now boast over 3,000 employees! It’s a great story of a Pennsylvania-based company growing globally.

We should also note, that while we at Team PA did not attend the meetings, our trade offices in France & Germany were setting up meetings all day long for the companies that attended the mission looking for new clients/customers.

During our last day, First Lady Susan Corbett hosted our final tourism luncheon of mission. Tour operators and reporters from as far away as Berlin came to hear Pennsylvania’s story! Special thanks to the tourism groups (VisitPhilly, VisitPittsburgh, and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau) for making these events a success!

With the official events of the mission complete, the delegation had one last chance to get together. The governor addressed the group and thanked them for their support in embarking on his administration’s first Trade Mission. We had a chance to all talk about ways to improve future missions and we at Team PA look forward to making it happen!

It was an amazing six days, with lots of work done by many people.

  • Thank you to Governor Corbett (our co-chair) and First Lady Susan Corbett for taking an entire week to promote the value of international trade, foreign direct investment, and tourism. Your leadership was exemplary and we got tired just watching how much work you did on the mission!
  • DCED Secretary Alan Walker, whose business background provided great reassurance to our investment clients that “he was from the government, and was there to help them!”
  • Thanks to the companies who took the time to make the investment to attend the Trade Mission and look for international clients.
  • Thank you to the investors of Team PA. You make our work possible. And for that we are eternally grateful!
  • Thanks to the planning team from OIBD and the Governor’s office that met EVERY WEEK (most times more) to plan the mission. Not everyone that worked on making the mission a success got to attend, which shows how dedicated our partners at OIBD and the Governor’s office are!
  • David Briel and Wilfred Muskens who went on the mission and lead our work from the OIBD perspective. They both worked tirelessly to make sure the mission was a success.
  • Lindsay Michael , our International Initiatives Manager, who was only hired in September, but had to hit the ground running as we planned the mission beginning in December! Lindsay is an extension of the Office of International Business Development’s staff, and we are supporting her work through private dollars, a true public-private partnership!

We look forward to working with the governor and OIBD more on these exciting projects!

Auf Wiedersehen!

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