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Tomblin spokesman says trade trips worth the cost

Photo provided to The Charleston Gazette In this photo released by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office, the governor talks with Millie Marshall, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, and others at a reception in Nagoya, Japan, earlier this year.
Photo provided to The Charleston Gazette
In this photo released by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office, the governor talks with Millie Marshall, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, and others at a reception in Nagoya, Japan, earlier this year.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Investments linked to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s trade mission to Japan in 2012 alone have exponentially exceeded the costs of that trip, as well as costs of a trade mission to Europe in 2013, and a return visit to Japan earlier this year, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.

“When you look at what these trips cost compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars of investments, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say they’re not worthwhile,” Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman said.

He said the 2012 visit — which lasted 10 days, from May 31 to June 9 — is directly linked to seven expansions of Japanese-owned business operations in West Virginia, amounting to $144 million in new investment and 231 new jobs.

Expansions at Hino Motors, Nippon Thermostat and Wheeling-Nisshin were among those announced in the months after that 2012 trade mission. The cost to the state for that trade mission was just over $107,000, according to Tomblin’s office.

The governor’s latest trade mission to Japan, May 12-21 of this year, cost roughly the same amount, with the state Development Office listing costs for airfare, ground transportation, lodging and meals for the eight-member state delegation totaling $63,524.

That doesn’t include expenses for receptions that the state delegation hosted in Tokyo and Nagoya, which have not been released by the Development Office. However, similar receptions in those cities during the 2012 visit had a total cost of just over $27,000.

 Stadelman said company officials, both foreign and domestic, have said they appreciate having direct access to Tomblin and top state officials like Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, a level of accessibility that larger states often can’t provide.

Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that governors around the country have been leading more foreign trade missions — with 80 taken or scheduled since the start of 2014 — and the results of those trips are often difficult to gauge…

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