Prince George's County Executive Lawrence Hogan departs next week on a two-week "economic development mission" to Europe that will cost $20,000 in county funds.
Accompanied by two aides and a friendly County Council member, Hogan plans to visit London, Amsterdam and Munich in what his aides maintain is a business trip to attract foreign investment to the county -- not a junket. i
"There won't be a free moment open except for eating and sleeping," said one Hogan aide familiar with the agenda, which had not been released.
On the list of scheduled events are briefings and receptions for businessmen. There will also be some sessions with foreign reporters. "They [the reporters] don't seem to understand what a county executive is," said one aide. "They're intrigued by the P.G. market and by a former congressman."
Hogan, who is on vacation, could not be reached for comment and his press aide said specifics of the trip will be released at a press conference Tuesday. James Threatte, acting director economic development, defended the trip as a justifiable expense.
"Whatever money we spend is an investment," he said. "If we get one company [to set up operations in the county] it'll bring back in tax returns $10 dollars for every $1 we spend."
Quipped one county official on hearing of the trip, "They have a higher chance of bringing in money on that investment by buying into the state lottery."
According to Hugh Keogh, director of marketing for the county, Hogan and his press aide Stephanie Bolick will leave for London Wednesday and arrive the next morning. They will spend the next two days conducting interviews with foreign reporters and being briefed on business opportunities by American officials in London.
On Sept. 6, they will be joined by council member David Hartlove and Frank Sheehan, coordinator of the county's effort to bring business to a proposed foreign trade zone.
The first weekend, Keogh said, will be devoted to recovering from jet lag and other needed "adjustments" to European culture.
The next two days will be devoted to luncheons and meetings with British businessmen and the U.S. Embassy. In both England and Germany, Keogh said, the county sent 500 letters to medium and large businesses asking them to attend briefings which Hogan and Hartlove will conduct.
About 40 companies have agreed to attend the seminars.
The four travelers will have most of Wednesday Sept. 10 free except for a flight from London to Amsterdam where Hogan's wife Ilona will join the group. Her expenses will not be paid by the county, Keogh said.
That evening and the next day, Hogan and his companions will host a cocktail party for Dutch businessmen and tour the Makro Co., a subsidiary of a Dutch conglomerate which recently set up a trade center in Prince George's. Hogan and the group also will meet with other companies which express an interest in the county during the cocktail party.
Sept. 12 through 14 will be essentially free days for the groups; business meetings are not conducted on weekends in Europe, Keogh said.
During the next two days the group will introduce Germans businessmen to the county's advantages, including its location between the Baltimore and Washington makets and its efforts to set up a duty-free foreign trade zone near Bowie.
The group will return to this country Sept. 18 and County Administrative Officer Kenneth Duncan, who will take over the role of county executive during the trip, will return to the reins of Hogan.