Parson’s Overseas Trade Mission Includes Spouses, Lawmakers and Business Leaders | Politics


JEFFERSON CITY – When Gov. Mike Parson leaves Missouri for a 10-day trade mission to Israel and Greece next week, he will travel with his wife, a top aide and wife, a security detail of four and at least a dozen others.

Parson confirmed the trip on Tuesday after the Post-Dispatch previously reported that officials were considering the dates as a replacement trip for a trip canceled last year due to pandemic travel restrictions.

This time around, visits to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates were not on the agenda.

Joining Governor and First Lady Teresa Parson in the venture will be Parson’s chief of staff Aaron Willard, as well as his wife, Becky, who was hired as executive director of the Hawthorn Foundation in March.

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The foundation, which receives much of its funding from the state, is a nonprofit organization that organizes overseas trade missions for the governor’s office.

Emails obtained by the Post-Dispatch show Becky Willard, a former fundraiser for US Senator Roy Blunt, was hired by the foundation after Parson and Aaron Willard signaled they wanted a say on who got the job.

A spokeswoman for Parson later said the foundation had made the choice.

In his role as Chief of Staff, Willard also has supervisory duties Missouri Department of Economic Development oversightwhich serves as a conduit agency for the $3 million that has been earmarked for the foundation this year.

Budget documents show the department is seeking an additional $1 million for Hawthorn in the fiscal year beginning next July.

Others willing to make the trip include Sen. Brian WilliamsD-University City and House Majority Leader Dean Plochera Republican Des Peres who is set to become the next Missouri House speaker.

Agency officials traveling to Israel and Greece include Agriculture Department director Chris Chinn and Maggie Kost, acting director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Also on board for the trip are Donn Rubin, President and CEO of BioSTLGuy Blase, President and CEO of EWR radar systems of Kirkwood and John Clark, president of masterlock inc. of Saint Charles.

When planning the trip earlier this year, officials said weather conditions could be less than ideal, with lows in the 40s and rain.

Parson said the purpose of the trip was to strengthen relationships, thank current partners and promote Missouri as a good place to do business.

The governor said Israel and Greece are key trading partners for Missouri, with nearly $54 million and more than $12 million in exports in 2020, respectively.

Among the goods exported to Israel, cars and trucks were among the most in demand. Chemicals and machinery figured prominently among exports to Greece.

Parson will be one of the keynote speakers at the Greek Economic Summit and will participate in a roundtable hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce to engage with Greek CEOs from the northern region of Thessaloniki.

“Countries around the world already buy billions of dollars of Missouri-made products every year,” Parson said in a statement. “We are excited to once again represent our state to international authorities and businesses while promoting Missouri as a great place to do business. »

Parson has previously traveled to Australia, France, Germany and Switzerland on trade missions.

Originally posted 11:30 a.m. Wednesday


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