Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, June 13, 2013
Encouraging International Trade and
Promoting Local Tourism

On Friday, I will join the governor and a number of other state officials on a trade trip to France. As one of only two state senators invited, I am honored to take part in this trip.

Missouri continues to grow a strong International trade relationship all across the world.  An important part of Missouri’s economic development is foreign trade.  Last year, Missouri exported more than $2.5 billion to Europe alone. Exports to France jumped up 21 percent between 2011 and 2012, making the country one of our fastest growing trade destinations. Growing our Missouri exports is critical in growing our economy.

The focus of this trip will be on aeronautics. A key stop in our schedule will be the 50th International Paris Air Show. Designing, building and supplying aviation components creates jobs in our area and throughout the state. Strengthening our role in the aerospace industry will bring a number of new jobs to Missouri.

While in France, we will also have the opportunity to visit the American Cemetery in Normandy, where thousands of World War II soldiers are buried, including more than 200 Missourians. Our trip will also include stops to Belgium and the United Kingdom, two other key European trading partners.

State taxpayer funds will not be used for the trip. All costs are covered by the Hawthorne Foundation, a non-profit group whose mission is promoting economic development in Missouri.

In local news, I’m pleased to announce the Missouri Division of Tourism has awarded almost $5,000 to the Carthage Visitors Bureau to help fund the numerous local events held by the organization to promote tourism in Jasper County and Southwest Missouri. These funds will be matched by local dollars.

Tourism is a critical part of our state’s economy. More than 36 million people visit Missouri every year, with an $11 billion economic impact. These tourists also support local businesses, which promotes economic growth in our area.

I’d like to congratulate the Carthage Visitors Bureau, which organizes countless fun, community activities for Carthage and the surrounding areas.