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Pence’s German trip lures jobs, goodwill

– Gov. Mike Pence is bringing more than jobs back home to Indiana from his trade mission to Germany – he’s got German chocolate Easter bunnies, too.

Pence announced two modest economic deals – one expanding a German company’s presence in Indiana and one creating another German company’s first North American location.

Pence concedes the transactions have been in the works for months but hopes his visit helps push them to fruition.

“Being able to come here and shake hands and close the deal I think is very meaningful,” he said Wednesday in a phone call from Germany.

Pence and eight others left Saturday for the trip and will return Friday. The cost of the state delegation is being covered through private donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation.

Pence said prospecting is just one of the reasons for the trade trip. Another is to say thanks and build relationships with some of the 110 German companies settled in Indiana.

“You cannot overestimate the value of simply coming to them and telling them how much we appreciate the investment in Indiana,” Pence said.

That’s why he visited the leaders of VOSS Automotive GmbH, the parent company of VOSS Automotive Inc. in Fort Wayne.

“It’s a very dynamic company,” Pence said. “It was valuable to be able to sit down with the leaders of that company and have a sense of their enthusiasm for Indiana and Fort Wayne.”

While he has been busy with business meetings, he said first lady Karen Pence has been handling the cultural outreach – including receiving the Easter basket gift of bunnies.

The highlight outside business for the couple has been the trip to visit Hoosier troops at Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters of U.S. Air Forces Europe and home of the 86th Airlift Wing.

Airmen and women of the 435th Air Base Wing and 86th Airlift Wing met with the governor and first lady during the visit that included a tour of the base and an open forum with Hoosier service members.

The governor said speaking with the troops over coffee and doughnuts and thanking them for their service was crucial.

The stop also included visiting wounded soldiers recovering at nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest military hospital outside the continental United States. The medical center serves as the nearest treatment center for seriously wounded service members coming from Afghanistan.