Gov. Rauner embarks on jobs mission to Europe 

CHICAGO (Apr. 13, 2018) — Governor Bruce Rauner went to Europe on Friday on jobs mission that will take him to major cities in Poland and in Germany to meet with leaders in business, government, higher education, and skilled worker training. He will spend his first 3 days in Poland during his European business trip. He will continue his trip to Germany later on.

The governor has been planning his visit in Europe for a long time. I have heard his statements on many occasions during the last few years.

His delegation will visit Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz in Poland. Krakow is the city from which most Polish Illinoisans emigrated. There are about 950,000 Polish Americans living in Illinois. Thousands of Poles come Illinois as tourists.

The first leg of the Governor’s trip will include visits to historic Polish sites with the U.S. Ambassador in Poland, Paul Jones, and Rabbi Yehiel Poupko.

Illinois National Guard leaders will accompany the Governor to Poland for a joint exercise in observance of a 25-year training partnership with the Polish Armed Forces.

Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, invited Governor Rauner for a meeting on Monday, April 16, 2018. The president of Poland plans to come to Chicago in May. This is a unique opportunity for two leaders to meet. Poland is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of regaining its independence in 2018 and the state of Illinois is celebrating the 200th Anniversary of its founding. There are many events planned in Illinois to celebrate the important anniversaries. Some events will integrate both anniversaries.

There are many business and academic exchanges between Illinois and Poland as well as with other European countries.

 I helped The University of Technology in Opole to establish cooperation with the Illinois State University, the oldest state University in Illinois in 2008. There have been a number of academic exchanges of students and faculty between the two schools ever since. During the process, I have learned that Abraham Lincoln helped with legal documents to establish ISU. It was incredible to be a part of the delegation from Illinois travelling to Poland in 2008 to sign MOU. When I was there, I met Dr. Andrzej Duda, who was one of the speakers during the academic celebrations, who is currently President of Poland.

There are other academic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean that cooperate together.

Another major area of cooperation is the military cooperation between the Illinois National Guards and Polish military forces. They frequently train together and serve in different parts of the world. I have written many articles on this topic in recent years but this is a broader issue for another occasion.

Governor Rauner shared during a special fundraiser of the Illinois Holocaust Museum this year that he wants to visit the Holocaust Museum in Auschwitz where hundreds of thousands of Jews were exterminated. It is worth to mention that the Illinois Holocaust Museum has many names of Poles who protected Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

A key issue for Governor Rauner during his European visit will be to strengthen the economic cooperation with European countries.

There are many examples of economic exchanges. The Polish Airline LOT has bought a number of the newest planes from the Boeing corporation that has its headquarters in Chicago.

Thousands of tourists from Poland visit different tourist destinations in Illinois every year as well as their families.

While on the trip in Germany, the Governor expects to receive updates on pending expansions and announce new projects that will add significant investment and jobs to the Illinois economy.

There are 212 German companies operating in Illinois, employing more than 36,700 Illinoisans. In 2017, German entities purchased more than $3.37 billion of Illinois goods and services, a 67.7% increase since 2009”.

Germany is an extremely important investor in Illinois,” Rauner said as he embarked on the trip. “It is Illinois’ third largest foreign direct investor by employment. Machinery and equipment, computer and electronic products, chemicals and fabricated metals represent billions of dollars in business and thousands of jobs for Illinoisans. The goal of the mission is to build on our relationships so we can attract more jobs and foreign direct investment to our state.”

According to the press release from the Governor’s office “the Governor is traveling with a delegation of Illinois business and community leaders as well as economic and university development executives. The trip is being organized and largely financed by Intersect Illinois, the private economic development organization formed in 2015 at the urging of Rauner to more effectively market Illinois to companies here and abroad. Rauner is paying his own way”.

Intersect Illinois is excited to partner with Governor Rauner on his first mission trip to Europe as we continue to execute our foreign direct investment strategy,” said the business development organization’s President and CEO Mark Peterson. Much as we did during our September trip to Asia, our mission to Europe will focus on bringing new jobs and new investments to Illinois through expansion of existing companies already here in the state as well as recruitment of new companies considering their first investment in Illinois.”

Near the end of the mission, the Governor will participate in an event announcing that the largest industrial technology trade fair brand will come to Chicago in September of this year, a major boost for the Illinois convention industry and manufacturing technology.

The HANNOVER MESSE trade show, staged annually in Hannover, Germany, is the world’s leading showcase for digitization of production and energy, areas of synergy for many Illinois companies.

In addition to Hannover, the delegation’s stops in Germany include Frankfurt, Essen and Hamburg. The latter includes Germany’s largest seaport.

I had the opportunity to do an interview with Pat Quinn, former Ltn Governor of Illinois, who was also the Governor of Illinois after his visit in Poland and other parts of Europe in 2007. I covered several other visits by Illinois governors during the last two decades.

The foundations of cooperation between the state of Illinois and Poland and other European countries are strong and continually expanding.

@ Text and photo Andrew (Andrew) Mikolajczyk