Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) spent the past four days meeting with Japanese business executives as he tries to lure companies to bring new jobs to Virginia.
He met with officials from the more than 100 companies that do business in Virginia, hosted a reception for 20 other companies that do not and talked to several CEOs in one-on-one meetings about investing in the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing near the new Rolls Royce plant in Prince George County and the state’s ports.
McDonnell, on a conference call with reporters from Shanghai, where he just arrived, said he hoped that the 11-day trade mission to Japan, China and Korea, which is costing $278,000, will result in high-paying jobs in the chemical, manufacturing, energy, automotive industries.
He also said he talked up the state’s agricultural products, including soybeans, pork, tobacco and wine.
McDonnell said he is the first U.S. governor to visit Japan since an earthquake and tsunami killed tens of thousands of people two months ago.
“Many of the corporate leaders and government officials were extremely grateful that we followed through on the trip,’’ he said.
McDonnell also is the first Virginia governor to visit since 2007, when former governor Mark Warner, now a U.S. senator, visited Japan. Former governor Tim Kaine was scheduled to be in Japan but returned home when the mass shooting at Virginia Tech occurred.
On Thursday, McDonnell will officially open Virginia’s trade office in China. The Shanghai office will have two employees and a budget of about $250,000 annually, which varies with the currency exchange rate.
An office in England opened earlier this year. The state hired an agency to represent Virginia with estimated budget of $225,000, which varies with the exchange rate, McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. The state will open an office in India in November.
McDonnell proposed the three offices and the General Assembly approved spending $1.5 million over two years for them.
Currently the state spends about $880,000 a year on independent contractors in four markets — Brussels, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Mexico
McDonnell went on his first trade mission to Europe — an eight-day trip to Britain, the Netherlands and Germany — in July. He plans to travel to India and Israel later this year and will also attend the Paris Air Show next month.