Governor Perdue going to Asia

October 12, 2009 9:12:24 PM PDT
Governor Bev Perdue will begin her first over-seas trip since taking office, on Wednesday.Perdue says the trip is about jobs and courting business for North Carolina in one of the fastest growing regions of the world. But some wonder how much is economic substance and how much is political spin.

The trip to Asia comes as North Carolina's unemployment rate is still almost 11 percent and as polls show Perdue's approval is still relatively low.

Companies from Japan and China employ more than 20,000 North Carolinians.

Lenovo is a Chinese computer maker with over 1,000 jobs in RTP. And China -behind only Canada- is now the second largest importer of North Carolina products.

So Perdue says she is going to Japan and China.

"This is a major economic development trip," Perdue said. "It is important for the future of North Carolina."

But as the state budget has most agencies trimming travel, most of the trip will be paid for with private money.

Still, the state's commerce department says tax-payers will shell out $82,000 for the 13 day trip.

"There's very little evidence that the more governors travel, the more business they bring back to their home states," said John Hood with the John Locke Foundation.

Some say they see the governor's trip as more political theatre than real job recruitment.

They are also skeptical after questions of expenses by former governor Mike Easley in his commerce trip to Italy, and former first lady Mary Easley's cultural resources trip to Russia and Estonia.

But other governors in other states are courting jobs and business in Asia all the time. And even if her background is education, Perdue says she needs to push for Asian business.

"It's very important that they see the face of the state in their country," she said. "I look forward to meeting the leadership and to recruiting businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to North Carolina."

Governor Perdue's public itinerary for the trip is still extremely vague.

The Department of Commerce says it will release details on Tuesday.

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