Delegation of 42 Execs Heads to Cuba
by: Lenore T. Adkins Special to the AFRO
November 10, 2016 0 31
More than 40 Prince George’s County businesses and organizations are
headed to Cuba next week on an inaugural trip with County Executive
Rushern Baker III. Their goal is to cultivate business and cultural
connections on the Communist island.
The 42 individuals represent the healthcare, education, construction,
information technology, arts and humanities, non-profits, and
engineering sectors. It marks the largest delegation to ever go on one
of Baker’s mission trips.
“I thought we would get maybe about 20 business delegates,” said Jim
Coleman, president and CEO of the Prince George’s County Economic
Development Corporation. “We had to cut it off because people were
saying ‘I still want to go.’”
The main point of the five-day trip is to understand Cuba’s needs, find
out how the county can help, and build relationships to pave the way for
future business opportunities between the county and Cuba.
The delegates are scheduled to meet with Marta Hernandez Romero, mayor
of Havana, and officials from the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of
Cuba, the Ministry of Commerce and Foreign Investment, the University of
Havana, and the Polyclinic of Vedado, among others.
The delegation will target the following industries: information
technology, hospitality, engineering, construction, medical/life
sciences, and agriculture. While there, the group will also meet leaders
from Cuba’s education and art scene for future exchanges and collaborations.
Coleman reiterated that this trip is all about building relationships
and exploring opportunities, not cutting deals. The hope is that Cuba
remembers the county for future business dealings if Congress lifts the
decades-old embargo against the island. “It’s a courting process and we
want this courting process to lead to matrimony,” said Coleman.
Baker, along with five members of his team, will lead the delegation –
private contributions financed their trip, as well as Coleman’s.
Everyone else paid the $5,850 it costs for the trip. The price tag
includes round-trip airfare from Ronald Reagan National Airport to José
Marti International Airport in Havana (by way of Miami), accommodations
for five nights at the historic Hotel Nacional, meals, security,
transportation, entertainment and more.
The trip comes almost two years after President Barack Obama announced
détente with Cuba at the end of 2014, following more than 50 years of
hostility between the former Cold War enemies. Obama’s subsequent Cuba
policy eased the decades-old embargo in the areas of travel, trade,
telecommunications, financial services, and remittances.
Following Obama’s historic announcement, business and government-led
delegations from across the United States and the world, flooded Cuba,
seeking deals of their own with the communist country. The overall
embargo continues to block most U.S. trade with the island and vice
versa. It can only be lifted with Congressional action, and Congress has
indicated it will not act on any of the Cuba-related bills during the
The Cuba mission trip is part of Baker’s long-term plan for
international business development that he released this year. Future
trade missions will involve a return trip to China, and trips to Canada,
Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, and South Korea. The Cuba trip will
likely be the first of several to the island.
“I want to make sure that Prince George’s County is in the forefront of
the new opportunities in Cuba for business and cultural exchanges,”
Baker said in a statement. “We want to ensure that as Cuba begins to
look at the United States and the Washington, D.C. region, it
understands Prince George’s County’s proximity to the nation’s Capital
and all that the County has to offer.”
Source: Delegation of 42 Execs Heads to Cuba | Afro –