Gov. Pat Quinn leaves today (Friday) for an eight-day trade mission to China during which Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland is expected to ink an agreement to provide 180,000 tons of soybeans to a Chinese company.

 


Gov. Pat Quinn leaves today (Friday) for an eight-day trade mission to China during which Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland is expected to ink an agreement to provide 180,000 tons of soybeans to a Chinese company.


 “I want to be the exporter-in-chief for the state of Illinois,” Quinn told reporters in Chicago Thursday. “Part of the job is to open up the door to other countries so we can export our goods and services to them.”


ADM’s agreement is with Jiusan Oils and Grains Industries, according to a news release from the agricultural giant.


“The agreement is part of a broader effort by ADM to leverage our global network of crop sourcing and transportation assets to serve growing Chinese demand for agricultural crops,” the company said in its statement.


Among those going with the governor is Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. Quinn said the trade mission will encourage companies such as Wanxiang America Corp, which recently opened a $12.5 million, 40,000-square-foot plant that makes solar panels in Rockford, to bring more business to Illinois. Wanxiang is one of the top 500 companies in China and its Rockford plant is the largest solar panel manufacturer in the Midwest.


“They are investing strongly in creating jobs in solar technology, and we want to encourage that,” Quinn said.


The governor said his campaign fund will foot the bill for his plane ticket and lodging, as will 30 other delegates from universities, businesses and state and local government. The state will pay for $133,000 in travel-related expenses, including lodging and plane tickets for two state government employees accompanying the governor, as well as ground transportation, conference space, seminar fees, presentation materials and videos and interpreters. Those expenses are covered in the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s budget for trade missions.


One of the accompanying employees is the director of economic outreach and development within the governor’s office, and the other is based in the state’s trade office who speaks Mandarin and will be doing some translation, according to Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson.


Quinn was asked whether deals like the one to be signed by ADM could be done without his presence given that the state owes billions in unpaid bills.


“Well, I think it’s important to bring a delegation of people as I am to really reflect the best of Illinois,” Quinn said. “We have 50,000 graduates of the U of I who live in China. When you build these connections with people, they remember our state. I think it’s a reasonable investment if you’re signing contracts of over hundreds of millions of dollars that are worth literally thousands of jobs in Illinois.”


One lawmaker typically critical of the governor and a state government that has racked up billions in unpaid bills despite a 67 percent income tax increase this year praised the trip.


“I don’t have a problem with him doing this. I think it’s appropriate that he is paying for it himself. I think that’s above and beyond the call,” said state Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine. “If you have something to market, if you have something to offer — and in Illinois we do — the governor should be the promoter-in-chief and go around the world where necessary. These are important trips to take. I wish he had better policies to sell.”


State Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, said future results will determine whether such trips are worthwhile.


“If it enhances our export opportunities, I guess it is,” Bomke said. “I suppose the governor needs to be promoting Illinois. It’s difficult given the fiscal crisis the state is in.”


Chris Wetterich can be reached at 788-1523.


 


Quinn’s overseas trips


Gov. Pat Quinn’s trip to China is the first trade mission led by an Illinois governor since then-Gov. George Ryan traveled to Cuba in 2002. Quinn has made other trips overseas while in office:


* July 2009: Visited troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with other governors


* December 2009 and December 2010: Visited U.S. troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Fisher House in Germany.


* July 2011: Visited Israel for an educational mission


* September 2011: Will visit Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong on a trade mission to China


 


Top 5 Illinois industries exporting to China in 2010


Machinery, $544 million


Waste and Scrap, $440 million


Computer and electronic parts, $364 million


Transportation equipment, $360 million


Agriculture, food and kindred products, $347 million


 


Who’s going?


Martin Beck, managing director, Shandong Heavy Industry Group and MAT Capital; J.D. Bindenagel, DePaul University; Tim Cantwell, director of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport; Troy Clarke, president of Asia-Pacific Operations for Navistar; John Coli, president of Teamsters Joint Council 25; Jeff Cooper, founder of Eudora; Morton Village President Norm Durflinger; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign interim vice president and chancellor Robert Easter; DePaul University Finance Department chairman Ali Fatemi; Guillermo Garcia, incoming chairman of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Illinois Farm Bureau vice president Richard Guebert Jr.; state Sen. Mattie Hunter; Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce president Larry D. Ivory; NAVTEQ president Lawrence Kaplan; St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern; Funk Linko CEO Vicky Linko; Daniel Lynch, managing director for corporate and government affairs for United Airlines; Bank Financial regional president John Manos; Greg Mefford, chief strategy officer for Radix International; Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey; state Sen. Antonio Munoz; David Ragan, vice president for export trading at ADM; state Sen. Kwame Raoul; America’s Food Technologies president Ellen Jordan Reidy; National Pasteurized Eggs CFO Michael Smith; T.G.S. National Wholesalers president Theodore Spyropoulos; Quarles and Brady partner Sanford Stein; Illinois Science and Technology Coalition president Matthew Summy; Loren Taylor, president of the University of Illinois Alumni Association; Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy president Michael Turansick.