What a difference a year makes.
This time last year, Gov. Mike Parson embarked on his first international trade mission, traveling to France, Germany, and Switzerland. The week-long trip was meant to bolster Missouri as a haven for potential new businesses — and he said “numerous projects” are still in the works as a result of that expedition.
While in Europe, Parson spent significant time at the Paris Airshow, where he and Missouri’s first lady met with Jamie McCourt, the U.S. ambassador to France; and Isabelle Hudon, the Candian ambassador to France.
Parson’s second overseas trip as governor came about a month later when he traveled to Australia. And he had planned to travel to the Middle East in March, but that trip was ultimately postponed when the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the world, including Missouri.
But what happened as a result of that first trip? Below is a conversation between The Missouri Times (TMT) and the state’s chief executive (MP) about the European trade mission with edits made for clarity.
TMT: Are any relationships ongoing that formed during that trip?
MP: The primary reason for our international travel is to build relationships and further raise the profile of the state of Missouri. We have numerous ongoing relationships that were established during both of our trade trips to Europe and Australia.
Our key goals are always to engage foreign investors in giving our state an opportunity to win their business while helping our companies and agri-producers export their products.
TMT: Before COVID-19, did you have any plans to make another overseas trip?
MP: Yes, unfortunately, I had to postpone my travel to Europe and the Middle East that was scheduled for March 15-22. We hope to get that re-scheduled as soon as we possibly can.
TMT: What partnerships formed as a result of that first trip?
MP: I’ve met with many CEOs of global companies one-on-one, and you may remember we announced the Bayer expansion last fall. That’s a perfect example of a relationship that was developed with the chairman of Bayer that ultimately led to increased jobs in our state.
Our office and the Department of Economic Development continuously work to explore partnerships and engage foreign investors by promoting the state all over the world. We are working on numerous projects that resulted from our meetings and international travel. Stay tuned on this — you’ll be hearing about some of these in the months to come.
TMT: What did you learn from that first trip that you still use to this day?
MP: First and foremost, it is important to meet with decision-makers face-to-face, establish a relationship, and build upon that. That is the most important that I as governor can do during these trips — sit across the table, talk about what’s important to their company and the state, and ultimately provide a solution that prominently features Missouri as the ideal location for their business expansion or investment. I’ve made some great friends all over the world.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.