Gov. Bev Perdue and First Gentleman Bob Eaves leave for a seven day trip to Germany Sunday for both business and pleasure.
Perdue and state Commerce Department officials will be meeting with German business executives to try and lure them to open up shop or expand in North Carolina. Commerce officials said 150 German companies maintain operations in the state, including Siemens Energy and Deutsche Bank.
While Perdue will hold meetings primarily in Munich, Commerce Department officials will touch base with businesses elsewhere, including: Hamburg, Berlin and -- it really does exist -- the great state of Mecklenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, to be exact.
Germany typically is among North Carolina's top eight trading partners each year (Canada is always No. 1), according to Kathy Neal, assistant secretary of commerce. Germany ranks second behind the United Kingdom in foreign tourist visits to the state: 115,000 visitors switched from sauerkraut to sweet potatoes in 2008.
Perdue and Eaves will spend part of the trip as tourists themselves, visiting with some of Eaves' relatives. The first couple is paying for their own expenses for the entire trip, according to Perdue's office.
UPDATE: Germany's rank as trading partner updated, courtesy of NC Commerce Dept. Also corrects what Perdue is paying for.