Gov. William Donald Schaefer and a small contingent will travel to Eastern Europe, Germany and the Netherlands beginning June 6 for a two-week mission to explore new trade opportunities and reinforce existing relationships, Maryland's economic development officer said yesterday.
"In many respects, this mirrors the mission we took last year" to England, Italy, Germany and the new Republic of Slovenia, said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development.
This year's venture will take in Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany and the Netherlands. Also going will be M. Scott Blacklin, who heads DEED's Maryland International Division, and J. Owen Cole, former chairman of First National Bank of Maryland and a longtime confidant of the governor.
Mr. Cole is "on the [state] port commission, the governor's comfortable with him, and he's very accomplished internationally," Mr. Wasserman said. Besides, he added, "It really never hurts to have a banker with you."
The Slovakian leg will include a visit with President Roman Kovac,whom Mr. Schaefer met last fall when Mr. Kovac was deputy premier, and again when he came to Washington last month for the dedication of the U.S. Holocaust museum.
"We think there's some real promise for Westinghouse to construct a new airport" in Slovakia, Mr. Wasserman said.
For the Slovakian leg alone, Department of the Environment Secretary Robert Perciasepe will join the group for discussions on setting up an environmental regulatory system.
The Maryland officials believe environmental technologies are among a core of emerging industries that will be increasingly important to the state's economy, according to Mr. Wasserman. He said the group will bring along copies of a directory of state environmental companies.
In Slovenia -- a country Governor Schaefer established relations with last year, even before the United States did -- the group will revisit the Trbovlje refugee center, which was aided by donations from Maryland's Corporate Care Campaign for Refugees earlier this year.
Also in negotiations, according to state officials, is a possible meeting by Mr. Schaefer with top executives of British Airways, which plans to expand its presence at BWI Airport.