Gov. Bev Perdue departs tomorrow for an Asian trade mission to China and Japan. It will be her second trip to China in 2 1/2 years.
The question this time, amid the economic realities, is whether the trip is worthwhile. Perdue said yes. "This is the most robust economy in the world right now. North Carolina has to have a relationship with them," she said recently. "So it sounds like a lot of money. I know its a lot of money. But the only way we can build this international trade alliance is through personal contacts."
The commerce department also suggested that Honda Jet's recent expansion to its Greensboro facility is credited to the governor's previous trip to China. "There are significant leads we are spending time on while we are in Asia," said commerce department spokesman Tim Crowley.
The state budgeted $40,000 for the trip with another $60,000 coming from the commerce department's nonprofit -- the North Carolina Commerce Trade and Development Fund.
Led by Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, the nonprofit takes unlimited contributions from outside business interests, including some that lobby the governor and general assembly on legislation and policy. The commerce fund will pay for the receptions and gifts for foreign leaders, Crowley said.
The state's portion does not include money for a security detail, he added, which could cost about $20,000.
Perdue's husband and Crisco's wife will also travel to China but will pay their own way. The state bought the governor and secretary economy tickets on American Airlines and any upgrades are paid for from personal funds, Crowley said.