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Pr. George's County Executive and President of Ghana Do Lunch

A couple of chief executives got together this afternoon for lunch at National Harbor. One is the head of a diverse Maryland county of about 820,000 people. The other is president of a West African nation of nearly 24 million.

As part of an ongoing effort to build business ties overseas, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson welcomed "His Excellency" John Atta Mills, president of the Republic of Ghana, for a meeting with local business leaders.

The event, held in the stately Annapolis Room inside the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, was aimed at enticing local businesses into investing in projects in Ghana.

In remarks after the playing of both the U.S. and Ghanaian national anthems, the nation's delegation conceded that reports of kidnapping and bribery in Africa were off-putting to foreign business, but said investors' security would be guaranteed if they chose to do business in the country.

"You want political stability?" asked Mills, whose lectern was flanked by security guards. "If that's what you want, I can assure you Ghana" is politically stable. "This is the time for us to develop our economic power, and we will need your support."

Ghana was recently thrust into the international spotlight when President Obama visited there this summer -- a trip mentioned numerous times by various speakers at the luncheon.

Johnson (D) has taken heat in the past for traveling to Africa while the county was struggling financially -- at least partially on the taxpayer's dime -- and giving few initial details about the nature of his trip.

This time, on the heels of the announcement of as many as 125 layoffs of county employees, Africa came to Johnson, and the hope, his spokesman said, is that better trade relations will mean an economic boon for both places.

"There's not economic development opportunity just within the county or the region or the country," said Johnson's spokesman, John Erzen.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  September 28, 2009; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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