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Working Vacations

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Last year Cuba, this year Mexico. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter sure knows how to pick his trade mission destinations.

Tropical climates in the spring aside, the Governor's Office is calling a recent week-long trade mission to Mexico a success, racking up new clients for Idaho companies.

Of course, we can't help but remember that's what they said about Cuba.

But after a whole lot of hype about that trip, it turns out North Dakota was the one able to finalize a deal to sell seed potatoes to the communist country (BW, News Shorts, "Potato Wars," June 13, 2007).

Still, the 16-member delegation did return with a few promises of business. Post Falls-based Ground Force Manufacturing has a verbal deal for more than $1 million in high-capacity water trucks and other vehicles used in mining.

Other results were not so tangible. According to a press release from the Governor's Office, participants were able to attend a whole lot of meetings with some high-level executives which they usually don't carry the clout to see. Now, they're just hoping those meetings turn into future business.

Among those meetings were a series of talks with large companies dealing with food processing and distribution, including Wal-Mart Mexico.

Otter also met with government officials to talk about both bean seeds and the possibility of allowing fresh produce imports beyond a 26-kilometer border zone. Mexico is the No. 2 export destination for Idaho products. The country spent more than $136.8 million on Idaho products last year.

But a week in Mexico can't all be about business.

Otter and his wife, Lori, made a guest appearance on Mexican cable television cooking show. The show was filmed in Monterrey and features Idaho's first couple making the ever-so-gourmet Idaho Cattlemen's Pie made with dehydrated mashed Idaho potatoes.

After a grueling week south of the border, Otter is now in the middle of a weeklong vacation.

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