Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, in India looking for jobs and export opportunities, also picked up a little perspective.
“We think the traffic’s bad in Virginia; boy, it’s horrific here,” McDonnell said Thursday on a conference call from Bangalore. He was referring specifically to Mumbai, where he had just spent several days.
“Nice city on the ocean,” he said, “but very, very congested.”
Virginia’s biggest export to India is coal, but McDonnell said he has been promoting the state’s wine, film and tourism industries. He’s hosted wine tastings with some of India’s top wine critics, hoteliers and others who might be interested in importing it.
He has also met with leaders in Indian auto manufacturing, health care and energy. Within the next two months, McDonnell said, he expects to be able to announce deals with Indian companies to start or expand existing business in Virginia.
“We expect to have several MOU’s [memoranda of understanding] signed within the next 60 days about their intention to expand in Virginia or do business in Virginia,” he said.
McDonnell has also met with education and political leaders. He noted that Virginia Tech is in the final stages of creating a master’s degree program for Indians to be based on the country’s southeast coast. The program will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
On Monday, McDonnell is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and open an agricultural trade office in Delhi to promote Virginia wood products, apples, processed foods and soybean oil.
McDonnell was asked if he was competing for the same business that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will seek with his own trade mission to India, which starts Monday.
“There is plenty of business for everybody to have,” McDonnell said. But McDonnell added that Virginia’s 12-person delegation was “leaner” that Maryland’s, which will include more than 100 business leaders, educators and elected officials.