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Working Vacations


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.