In 1999, Governor George Ryan of Illinois became the first sitting U.S. governor to travel to Cuba since Fidel Castro seized power in 1959. During the trip he had a long meeting with Castro and repeatedly called for the unilateral lifting of sanctions towards that regime. Today, Governor Ryan sits in a federal prison on corruption charges, but did the trip have any benefit for Illinois businesses?
From the Peoria Star Journal:
Boon to Illinois trade?
Opening trade between the United States and Cuba could benefit certain sectors of the U.S. economy, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals and heavy machinery - all of which have a strong presence in Illinois.
But it's unclear whether the 1999 trip means that the Land of Lincoln would stand to gain more than other states if Cuba and the United States normalize diplomatic relations.
"That's a long time ago. That's 10 years ago," David Chicoine [former dean of University of Illinois' College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences] said. "From an economic standpoint, it's probably much more of an important issue for the Cubans and the Cuban economy than it is for the U.S."
Doug Crew, a retired governmental affairs manager at Caterpillar Inc., added: "Given the time that has passed since then, I think the potential for opportunity because of that trip is increasingly limited."
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