Scott leads trade mission to Britain

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For Gov. Rick Scott and an entourage of business and economic-development leaders, the phrase may be repeated throughout the week as Scott tours the British Isles to drum up business for Florida.

With plans announced earlier this month for a new Airbus manufacturing plant in Mobile, Ala., Florida is hoping to cash in on its proximity and aeronautical experience. The news of the Alabama deal provides an added incentive for the trade group that crossed the pond for the Farnborough International Air Show.

On Monday, Scott met with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the importance of the aerospace sector to the global economy and their efforts to implement policies that create aerospace sector jobs in the UK and Florida.

The UK and Florida have significant trade and investment links as the world's seventh and 20th largest economies, respectively," Scott said in a statement. Great Britain is one of Florida largest direct investors, and nearly 1.3 million British tourists visit Florida every year.

The trade mission comes a week after Airbus announced it would build a $600 million manufacturing plant in Mobile. Scott and others are hoping to lure or expand ancillary businesses needed to support the plant, which is expected to employ 1,000 workers and cost the state of Alabama about $165 million in incentives.

Scott plans to spend all day Tuesday at the air show in back-to-back meetings with undisclosed aviation companies. He has scheduled other appointments with private companies periodically for the remainder of his trip, which ends July 15.

Florida is home to 12 military aviation bases and three spaceports. The aviation sector in Florida includes about 2,000 companies and 83,000 employees, according to information from Enterprise Florida.

Scott's not the only governor to lead groups to Great Britain. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Virginia Gov. Bob McConnell are also leading potential trading partners.

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, also made the trip.

Enterprise Florida paid for travel expenses for most government travelers. Private companies paid their own way.

Government groups and economic developers in attendance include staff members from Enterprise Florida, the governor's office and local economic development agencies including Pensacola, the Space Coast, and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University had the largest single group of attendees. The university and flight school in Daytona Beach attracts a large number of European students.

Companies taking part in the mission include JBT AeroTech of Orlando, Custom Manufacturing of Pinellas Park, The Haskell of Jacksonville and L2 Aerospace of Port Canaveral. In all, 21 Florida exhibitors will be at the air show, which is expected to draw more than 120,000 visitors and provide the backdrop for billions of dollars in business deals.