Illinois' political news has lulled as of late, while Governor Pat Quinn was in China on a trade mission.
Quinn has, along with a small delegation of representatives from the Illinois General Assembly, been meeting with business leaders during their mission, laying some groundwork for valuable trade agreements with Illinois companies with the hope of increasing Illinois exports by 2014. And, yes, they have reportedly paid for their own airfare and lodging, though the trip still will set the state back about $133,000.
Agreements announced by Quinn include China-based Goldwin's plans to build a $200 million wind farm in north central Lee County, as well as a deal between Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. and a Chinese company. Also, the nation's American Goods Distribution Center plans to open a Chicago purchasing office. On Tuesday, Quinn announced a major grain agreement signed with Taiwan.
"You've gotta do it face-to-face, that's a Chinese tradition," Quinn told ABC 7 of the trip. "Their president came to only one state back in January; he came to Illinois. He told me then, he sees Illinois as a gateway to the Midwest. They want to receive more exports from our state so we've got to make those connections if we're gonna create jobs."
Of course, it hasn't been all business for Quinn in China. Perhaps following the lead of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' anti-hunge Asian carp campaign, Quinn dined on the invasive fish. (See photo below.)
Quinn left the state as it was named among the worst places to do business in the country, which provided fodder for Quinn's harshest critics. Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady told the Associated Press that no amount of new trade deals will undo the state's questionable reputation within the business community.
Quinn also reportedly stopped in Japan before heading back stateside from the Chinese mission, drumming up business for Eakas Corp.' Peru plant, according to the News Tribune.
Want to see what Illinois' governor has been up to while abroad? Check out some photos from the trip here:
All photos appear courtesy of Governor Quinn's press office.