Perry: Planned A&M campus in Israel 'historic'

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Associated Press

Posted on October 23, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 1:32 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday lauded as "historic" plans to create a Texas A&M University campus in Israel while again trumpeting the impact of his business-recruiting travels during a 10-day overseas trip.

Making what he said was his fourth trip to Israel since 1992, Perry said the visit was a chance to "open discussions" with businesses that might be considering global expansion, but he didn't mention specific companies. He also visited London on the trip.

Perry is famous for his job-poaching trips beyond Texas, but the longest-serving governor in state history has been particularly well-traveled lately as his time in office draws to a close. Perry, who is not seeking re-election in 2014 and is mulling another run for president in 2016, had already been to six states in seven months even before going to London and Israel.

He described this latest trip as a chance to remind the countries of Texas being a heavy hitter in global trade.

"This trip provided an excellent opportunity to spread the word about Texas' world-class economic climate," said Perry, speaking to reporters on a conference call from Israel.

His trip also included the announcement this week that Texas A&M University, Perry's alma mater, is planning to open a "peace university" in Nazareth, Israel's largest city. A&M Chancellor John Sharp said this week the location was chosen after consulting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The campus will feature a combination of Arab, Jewish and international students. Many American universities have collaborative relationships with Israeli universities. But branch campuses have been rare.

"We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to move the peace process forward and build understanding between cultures," Perry said.

Critics dispute the impact of Perry's far-flung sales pitches to lure new employers to Texas. On Wednesday, the Washington-based nonprofit Good Jobs First that tracks state economic development subsidies issued an updated report that raises skepticism about public-private partnerships launched in the name of job creation.

TexasOne, which pays for Perry's business-recruiting trips, uses no state tax dollars. Members of TexasOne include local economic development councils that do, however, receive local tax funding.

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