Tomblin plans announcements from Euro trip

CHARLESTON – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said he expects to make announcements within the next few days concerning deals made during a nearly two-week investment trip to Europe.

Tomblin and a West Virginia delegation will return today from a 13-day trip to five countries – including Spain, France, Germany and Italy – and eight cities.

During the mission, Tomblin met with companies already doing business in West Virginia, including Constellium, Saint-Gobain and Pietro Fiorentini, as well as companies considering investing in the state. The governor also attended the K-show, the world’s largest international trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry, in addition to speaking at the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce luncheon and the Vicenza Trade Association investment seminar.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind tour,” Tomblin said Monday during a teleconference from the West Virginia Development Office’s European office in the Zurich World Trade Center.

West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said the office provides the state with a “virtual and actual office space throughout Europe” at a lower cost than locating offices in other parts of Europe.

Tomblin said his time has been spent meeting with potential investors in a variety of industries, from chemical to manufacturing to energy building projects.

Tomblin said he hopes to have several announcements when he returned to the states.

“I cannot announce them right now, but I could have some in the next few days,” he said

Tomblin said during discussions he fielded many questions about Marcellus Shale, technical schools and colleges and the state’s workforce.

Tomblin also said recent drama with the shutdown of the U.S. government and a run up to a possible default on U.S. financial obligations was an often-discussed topic.

“There were questions,” Tomblin said. “It had repercussions around the world. They wanted to know from us what effect it would have on state and local governments. “

The crisis was averted after a last-minute deal allowed the government to reopen and continue paying its bills, at least for the next three months.

“Since it was resolved while we were here, (the mood and questsions) changed a little bit,” he said. “It was definitely on everyone’s minds.”

The European initiative is Tomblin’s second trade mission. A mission to Japan in June 2012 resulted in more than $100 million of investments in the state.

Tomblin has said a third of West Virginia’s $11.3 billion exports went to Europe and more than 80 European companies have invested in the state, employing more than 10,000 residents.