SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert visited a Swiss rail company Friday to kick off an 11-day European trade mission that includes stops in France to attend the International Paris Air Show and in Italy.
The governor, who arrived in Zurich Thursday, visited the headquarters of the Stadler Rail Group in nearby Bussnang, a company that recently opened a new $50 million manufacturing facility close to Salt Lake City International Airport.
Herbert said in a Facebook post he is "more grateful than ever for their decision to locate their North American manufacturing in Utah." He said Stadler is expected to employ 1,000 workers, building rail cars for transit agencies around the country.
At the Swiss facility, the governor said he saw firsthand the company's "efforts to expand and innovate passenger train technology" and was "impressed by the steps Stadler is making to make travel easier and more enjoyable for everyone."
There was also a meeting with high school-age apprentices, Herbert said, "useful for our team from Talent Ready Utah (the state's work-based learning initiative) to learn how apprenticeships are working in Switzerland."
The visit by the trade delegation has been described as an opportunity to explore partnerships, including a similar apprenticeship program with Talent Ready Utah, Salt Lake Community College and public schools.
In 2015, a group of state lawmakers and Utah Transit Authority board members stirred controversy by traveling to Switzerland to meet with Stadler officials at the same time the company was bidding to lease space from the transit authority.
Later that year, Stadler announced plans to build a plant in Utah, its only facility outside of Europe and northern Africa. The company began contracting with U.S. transit agencies to build trains in 2002.
Other stops on the trade mission include the International Paris Air Show that opens Monday. The largest air show in the world is a showcase for aerospace and defense technology. Eight Utah aerospace companies are expected to attend.
Also next week, the delegation is set to visit Enel Green Power in Rome, a multinational energy company that has a first-of-its-kind plant in Cove Fort that combines geothermal and hydropower to produce electricity.
Val Hale, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said in a statement the trade mission "will allow Utah companies to connect with diverse industries," relationships he said are key to the state's economic success.
A news release from the office and the World Trade Center Utah said the three countries were chosen based on the strength of their economies as well as their close ties to the United States.
Nearly two dozen companies and organizations are participating in the trade mission, including Kaddas Enterprises, a company that makes plastic products used in buses, airplanes, utility lines, medical devices and more.
The company's CEO, Natalie Kaddas, has already been on four Utah trade missions and said in a statement that "having the support of the governor establishes a level of credibility that a small business could not create on its own."
Participants are scheduled to return to Utah on June 22.