July 16, 2008

Why is Tim Kaine in Europe This Week?

By Jim Nolan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.

Jul. 16--Jobs, not roads, have Gov. Timothy M. Kaine jetting across Europe this week.

"It's been a whirlwind," Kaine said yesterday during a brief interview midway through his marketing mission to Poland, England and Ireland with officials from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Kaine spoke from London after a stay in Warsaw, where he met with officials from IKEA and the companies that supply the Swedish furniture giant.

Poland is home to Com.40 Ltd., a mattress and furniture maker that supplies IKEA and recently agreed to open a factory in Danville, where a Swedford-IKEA plant is already operating.

On Monday, IKEA held a dinner with the heads of six of its major suppliers, giving the Virginia delegation a chance to pitch the state as a place to locate future plants.

Kaine said Virginia makes sense to the IKEA companies because 60 percent of IKEA's retail sales in the United States come from the East Coast. Favorable exchange rates for foreign businesses also make it attractive to relocate here.

"It's a really great opportunity to invest," Kaine said, saying the VEDP had "a very good day" in Poland.

Last night, the VEDP delegation was hosting a reception for Rolls-Royce officials and suppliers in London before an annual dinner sponsored by the company. This morning Kaine is scheduled to tour the Farnborough International Airshow as a guest of Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce, which has its North American headquarters in Reston, will locate an aeroengine plant in Prince George County, bringing 500 jobs to the area.

In addition to jobs, Kaine said state universities stand to benefit as a source of engineers for research and development in the company's defense and civil aerospace business.

The last leg of Kaine's trip is a visit to Ireland tomorrow, which he described as a "little more governmental" than the stopovers in Poland and England.

The governor will meet with Eamon Ryan, the Irish minister for communications, energy and natural resources, and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin. On Friday, Kaine will speak to a breakfast meeting of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Contact Jim Nolan at (804) 649-6061 or [email protected]


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