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Parson takes off for first overseas trade mission to Europe

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson embarked on his first overseas trade mission Friday, a weeklong trip to bolster the Show-Me State to potential new businesses.

Parson is slated to travel to France, Germany, and Switzerland from June 14-22 — his first trip to Europe as governor. Immediately after, Parson and his wife are expected to stay in Europe for a family vacation. The governor has begun the process of ceding power to Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe — a Republican who Parson appointed when he took over as Missouri’s chief executive — during the vacation portion of the trip, The Missouri Times has confirmed.

“International trade and investment play a critical role in our state’s economy,” Parson said in a statement about the trade mission. “We must continue to build upon our foreign relationships and promote Missouri as an ideal location for business in order to sustain economic growth and success.”

While in France, Parson is scheduled to meet with a bevy of business leaders to discuss workforce development and infrastructure improvements. He will join a roundtable discussion with French CEOs to “promote” the state’s business climate and discuss future trends, the Governor’s Office said in a news release.

Additionally, Parson plans to attend the Paris Airshow and meet with company leaders who aim to expand Missouri’s aerospace exports, particularly Boeing, Leonardo DRS, and GNK Aerospace.

European trade mission trips aren’t uncommon for Missouri governors. However, former Gov. Eric Greitens canceled a similar trip in 2017 because he called a special session regarding an anti-abortion bill.

Parson and first lady Teresa Parson are also expected to visit the Normandy American Cemetery for a flag exchange and wreath-placing ceremony.  

The Governor’s Office said more details about the overseas trip will be released next week.

Parson has made workforce development a priority during his tenure. Despite opposition from Senate conservatives, Parson and Senate leadership successfully pushed through a major workforce development bill last month that creates the Missouri One Start Program with incentives spurred by a potential $1 billion investment from General Motors in its Wentzville plant and the inclusion of a Fast Track grant program and closing fund.

The bill has been delivered to the governor where it awaits his signature.