Kemp’s office said his trip will be the first time a sitting U.S. governor has visited the nation of Georgia, a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountains that’s in a perennial struggle with its giant Russian neighbor.
Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and holds military control of roughly one-fifth of its territory. But pro-U.S. sentiment is widespread in the urbane city of Tbilisi and much of the southern and eastern parts of the country, and the Georgian constitution makes clear its determination to join NATO. Pro-Ukrainian demonstrations have drawn thousands of Georgian demonstrators.
In a statement, Kemp said the trip will “reinforce our commitment to our partnership with their military.”
“That partnership has endured for over 28 years, as we remain a friend and ally to freedom-loving people around the world,” Kemp said, adding that he’ll also promote the state to “job creators and major industry leaders we’ll meet during this busy trip.”
On the second leg of the trip, Kemp’s office said he has a “packed schedule” at the Paris Air Show, the biennial showcase that will draw the world’s biggest aviation companies. Delta Air Lines is among the state-based firms set to attend.
Of his trio of overseas missions this year, Kemp said Monday that there was “a lot of pent-up demand because I didn’t go anywhere for 2 1/2 years” during his first term in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In all, this will be his fifth international trip since his 2018 victory.
The state of Georgia’s aerospace industry includes major players such as Atlanta-based Delta, Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace and Lockheed Martin’s military aircraft manufacturing operations in Marietta, as well as smaller companies and suppliers.
There are also startups and newcomers including hypersonic aircraft developer Hermeus in Doraville and Archer Aviation’s planned electric aircraft manufacturing facility in Covington. And during his trip to Israel last month, Kemp visited an IAI plant that has a joint project with Gulfstream and could be looking to expand.
In total, there are more than 800 aerospace companies in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. More than 200,000 people in the state work in aerospace-related jobs, according to state figures, and aerospace products are Georgia’s No. 1 export.
Kemp’s trip will be financed by the state Economic Development Department. The governor will be joined in Tbilisi by Major Gen. Tom Carden of the Georgia National Guard and state economic officials. In Paris, the governor will be accompanied by state economic recruiters. His wife, Marty Kemp, will also be along for the entire stretch.
“Our teammates from the country of Georgia have fought shoulder to shoulder with us since Sept. 11,” said Carden, who predicted the partnership will go to the “next level” on Kemp’s watch.
Pat Wilson, the state’s top economic development official, said the mission will help bolster Georgia’s role as a logistics hub.
“Connectivity leads to business, and it starts with building relationships,” Wilson said. “Missions reinforce these relationships and create new ones, opening the door for new opportunities.”
Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this article.