Q: On a roadshow in overseas markets, how does Missouri distinguish itself from other US states, especially those that are better known internationally, such as New York or California?
A: [We talk a lot about] fiscal issues. We are a very low-tax state. We have a very predictable taxation system and we are also an AAA rated state by [rating agencies], which sets us apart. Missouri is a great place to invest and our strong fiscal record separates us from places that raise taxes or borrow money all the time.
I am travelling now [in Europe] with Democrats and Republicans, so we present a very unified front, unlike some of the rough-and-tumble places where partisanship has taken over the day. The second [way we distinguish ourselves is with] real investment in workers and education. We have had the lowest increase in tuition [fees] of any state in the country, so we really embrace education, and higher education and worker training.
We believe our focus [should be] on making sure we have the strongest and most productive workforce possible, so that we can continue to differentiate ourselves and add to our strong record of good investments and exports.
Q: Which other countries are you visiting to drum up investments?
A: This trip we have also been to France. At the Paris Air Show we announced significant investments and expansion by Boeing. [After London, we will be in] Brussels for a series of meetings. Already this year, we have gone to South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil and China.
We look forward to increased opportunities, not only around the world but also in North America where we have significant relationships, especially in Canada in the energy sector. We are in the middle of constructing a pipeline by [Canadian pipeline transport company] Enbridge that will run through Missouri. So, on many fronts we are trying to present a continuing strong international presence.
Q: Which do you view as the sectors offering the most opportunity for foreign companies?
A: Clearly the financial services sector. When New York and other places were cutting jobs in that sector, Missouri was adding them. In advanced manufacturing, Ford has its Transit vehicle that is going to be built in the US for the first time and [the company] has made a $1bn dollar investment [in Missouri for this]. And General Motors has made a $400m investment to build a brand-new vehicle [also in Missouri].
In the life sciences area, we have the animal health quarter to the west, and about 4000 different companies involved with animal and plant sciences to the east of the state. We think that we have a chance to make an even more significant play in those areas where science and technology join with education to build an economy of the future.