Guv on 4-nation tour to pitch Colorado

Gov. John Hickenlooper will lead a group of business and academic leaders on an economic development mission to Japan, China, Turkey and Israel later this month.

While the group, 52 people in all, doesn’t include anyone from the Western Slope, that’s not because they weren’t invited.

Several were, according to the governor’s press office, but no one could make it. Still, the governor does plan to make at least one pitch to help open up markets for Western Slope liquefied natural gas, said Kathy Green, the governor’s press secretary.

Kristi Pollard, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said the governor is taking a copy of its study detailing the advantages of reliable Piceance Basin natural gas to Pacific Rim buyers.

“Go, Governor Hickenlooper,” Pollard said. “Talk about western Colorado natural gas as much as you want.”

Beyond that, the governor and his entourage will meet with numerous government and business leaders in the four nations, including such people, companies and groups as Tokyo Gas, Cathay Biotech in Shanghai, the Turkic American Chamber of Commerce and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“This mission will engage business, political and thought leaders to strengthen Colorado’s relationships and support our efforts in developing unique economic opportunities to create and retain jobs,” the governor said in a release. “Creating deeper ties between these countries and Colorado allows us to also promote our state’s innovative economy and business environment to potential foreign investors.”

The 14-day mission, which begins on Wednesday, will start in Japan, where the governor will sign an agreement between the Colorado Innovation Network and the Japan Innovative Network. The networks were formed to help work as catalysts for economic prosperity through partnerships between government, business, academic and civic groups.

The mission will spend five days in Japan, five days in China, two days in Turkey and two in Israel.

The governor’s office said that both China and Japan have become strong trade and investment partners for numerous Colorado companies, adding that China is the state’s third-largest export market and Japan the fourth.

The office said Turkey is on the list because it has been growing as an export market dramatically since 2010. Currently, Colorado exports to that nation totaled more than $21 million last year, a 52 percent jump from 2010.

The mission’s emphasis in Israel, which is the state’s 27th largest export market, will focus on research and development.

Most of the cost of the mission is being covered from participation fees and sponsorships, but state costs for the nine state workers who will be in attendance is expected to be about $50,000.


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