HUNTINGTON – West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and an assembly of state commerce leaders spent the past week putting a face to the Mountain State name during a commerce mission to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Between Oct. 14 and 22, Tomblin and his associates focused on strengthening relationships with companies that already are doing business in West Virginia, as well as establishing relationships with prospective companies and industries, said Chelsea Ruby, director of marketing and communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, who also traveled to Europe last week.
Ruby said West Virginia has a lot to offer foreign entities looking to manufacture and distribute products in the United States.
“West Virginia’s proximity to the Eastern United States makes it a very good location for these companies,” Ruby said. “The companies are also interested in workforce development and workforce training programs, and, at the end of the day, they’re interested in the personalized attention West Virginia can give.”
Ruby said the United Kingdom is West Virginia’s eighth-largest export market, and Tomblin’s trip to the U.K. and Ireland marks his fifth international commerce mission following trips to Japan, Brazil and other parts of Europe.
West Virginia is home to more than 130 international companies from 27 countries around the world, according to a release from the Governor’s Office.
Also traveling with Tomblin and Ruby in the U.K. and Ireland were West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette; Kris Hopkins, director of business and industrial development for the state commerce department; Stephen Spence, director of the commerce department’s International Division; and Angela Mascia, the interim director of West Virginia’s European commerce outreach.
“When I became West Virginia’s governor, I promised to go anywhere and sit down with anyone to bring jobs to our state, and I intend on keeping that promise until the final days of my administration,” Tomblin said in the release.
Tomblin also met with English cabinetry and furniture designer Christopher Peacock, whose website includes the tagline “Handcrafted in the United States. Renowned Across the Globe.” Peacock’s lone manufacturing headquarters have been in Wardensville, also in the Eastern Panhandle, since the 1990s.
Additionally, Tomblin met with leaders in organizations designed to promote commerce with Ireland, Great Britain and the rest of the world, including BritishAmerican Business, British Plastics Federation, Plastics Ireland, IDA Ireland and other business and industry associations.