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Corbetts, midstater to trade mission in Brazil, Chile - abc27 WHTM

Corbetts, midstater to trade mission in Brazil, Chile

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

It was 86 degrees in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday, a perfect escape from the perpetual cold that's been clinging to Pennsylvania this spring.

Rio will be one of the stops for Governor Tom Corbett and his wife as they lead a ten-day trade mission to Brazil and Chile. They leave Saturday and will meet with business leaders and government officials in both countries.

The governor calls the agenda "packed" and insists he and his wife will be constantly selling Pennsylvania.

"It's also an opportunity for her as well as I to see what we can do in the way of tourism between Brazil, Chile and Pennsylvania and promote that," Corbett said Thursday.

The delegation is about two dozen strong and includes business leaders from the state and economic development officials from across Pennsylvania.

With economic problems in the commonwealth, critics (and there are always critics of these junkets) say Corbett's focus should be at home. His staff points out that six U.S. governors have gone to Brazil within the past two years, five to Chile.

Corbett also notes that Pennsylvania governors have made international trips in the past, and says his is more frugal since it's privately funded.

"Trade missions of my predecessors were paid for with taxpayer dollars. We're not using taxpayer dollars," Corbett said. "The only taxpayer dollars are for the security detail and I think that's a reasonable expense of taxpayer dollars."

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Economic Development Corporation, will do one leg of the junket. Ross says Franklin County's largest employers are heavy equipment manufacturers who get supplies from Brazil.

Ross is on a mission to strengthen Franklin County's relationships with existing suppliers. He'll also attempt to lure new companies to southcentral Pennsylvania. He says meeting people in person is crucial.

"Individuals have to get comfortable with us, with the area, because they're operating on a leap of faith in a lot of cases," Ross said.

Ross calls it a working trip, hard working, and those beautiful beaches of Rio are not on his itinerary.

"We're going to Sao Paulo, arguably the most violent city in the world," he said with a chuckle.

FCEDC is paying Ross' way and they expect a return on the investment.

"We don't have the luxury of taking haphazard trips that maybe they'll work, maybe they won't," he said. "We feel pretty confident in what we're trying to do here."

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