Leggett Plans Trade Trip to Asia
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) departs next week for a two-week economic development trip to Korea and China. The Asia tour follows Leggett's trade mission last year to Israel.
The trip's price tag for the county executive and his aides is $38,346.
"It's almost impossible to have a leaner delegation than this," said Leggett's spokesman, Patrick Lacefield. "Ike is being cost-conscious."
Airline tickets for Leggett and the four economic development department staff members run $14,304, and accommodations will cost $9,620. The county plans to spend $9,850 to host receptions for government and business leaders and $4,572 on other meals and incidentals. Lacefield said the county is hoping to get reimbursed by the state for jointly hosted events.
The Asia trip comes as Leggett has been warning the County Council of a projected $250.million shortfall for fiscal 2010. Leggett plans to force county employees to stay home for at least two days unpaid as part of a package of planned cuts to the current budget and has said additional furloughs are possible.
Council President Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) said that given the timing of Leggett's trip, "there should be some raised eyebrows."
"I would be rethinking going given where we are right now," Knapp said of the budget constraints. "I think there's an awful lot we can do with economic development right here with the assets we have in our back yard as opposed to traveling around the world."
Last year, Leggett dropped out of a planned economic development trip to India to help shape the tax package put forward by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in the high-stakes special session of the General Assembly.
Lacefield said this year's trip is intended to strengthen the county's relationship with Korean biotech and pharmaceutical companies that began in 2002, in part because of the hundreds of Korean scientists x working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda and the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville.
"He wants to continue work in Korea and open opportunities in China," Lacefield said.
Leggett will attend the Bio Korea forum with representatives from NIH and Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development, in addition to meeting with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Leggett's schedule for Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing includes visits to the Chinese operations of two Rockville-based companies and Marriott China, in addition to meetings with government offici
October 2, 2008; 10:05 AM ET
Categories: Ann Marimow , Montgomery County
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