The cynical will say, and they’ll be at least half-right, that Gov. Bobby Jindal is off on a 10-day photo op with European politicians to bolster his foreign relations cred in the 2016 presidential campaign. But that’s only half-right, and the other half is good for Louisiana.
It’s only the second international trip for business development by our two-term governor, who must leave office in January 2016. The previous trip was to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan a year ago.
This trip is to Germany, Britain and Switzerland; the governor will give a speech to a conservative policy group in London.
The largest part of the agenda, for us back home, is that Jindal will be meeting with companies considering industrial or other business expansions in the United States. One of those is already a prominent corporate citizen, BASF, which has its largest North American manufacturing site in Geismar near Baton Rouge.
The company has more than 2,000 employees in Louisiana and is considering a plan to build a $1.4 billion propylene plant somewhere along the Gulf Coast. It’s good to visit the headquarters of existing investors in Louisiana, but it would be even better if they expand here.
Governors differ on foreign travel for economic development. Sometimes that is just personal choice and sometimes the economic climate is not right for foreign direct investment. Gov. Mike Foster rarely left the state, but Gov. Kathleen Blanco did more trips; we’d have liked Jindal to do more of them than two, but as he took office only shortly before a huge stock market crash, the times probably were not propitious.
The governor will be backed up by Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret as well as Greg Rusovich, chairman of the Louisiana International Commerce Board, and Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., the economic development arm for the New Orleans region.
We wish them good hunting for Louisiana prospects.