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O'Malley planning India trade mission

Trip would be governor's second to Asia this year

By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun

7:38 PM EDT, August 23, 2011

SILVER SPRING —

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Gov. Martin O'Malley is planning to lead a trade mission to India, he said Tuesday, in what would be his second international trip this year.

O'Malley said the purpose of the trip is jobs and that he hopes to go "before the year's end."

"We're working on it," O'Malley said. "We promote the competitive strengths of Maryland." He listed life sciences, biotech, information technology and health care as those strengths.

India is Maryland's 12th-largest trading partner, and the state is host to branch offices for five Indian companies, according to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. About 50 Maryland companies have offices in India, according to DBED.

In June, O'Malley led nearly 70 business leaders, educators and officials on a trade mission to China, South Korea and Vietnam.

The cost to taxpayers for the 10-day trip was $164,000. The governor said it netted $85 million in deals between companies in Maryland and Asia.

O'Malley did not provide details on the India trip, which he said is still in the planning phase.

He spoke of the trip after an event at Montgomery College designed to promote a new link between the school and Discovery Communications in Silver Spring. The company is launching an advertising campaign aimed at persuading midcareer workers to enroll in community colleges.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who attended the event, called himself "a cheerleader" for the campaign.

"This is clearly a challenging time in our country with high unemployment," Duncan said.

He estimated that 2 million jobs in the U.S. are unfilled because employers are unable to find workers with the needed skills.

He said the "skills gap" could be addressed by community colleges, institutions that he said are nimble enough to adjust their curriculums to meet training needs for high-skills jobs such as nursing.

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