HAVANNA, Cuba (WKBN) – As diplomatic relations improve between Washington and Havanna, local leaders are hoping to take advantage of what they see as a potentially huge economic opportunity for this region.
State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, and Valley Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Niles, will lead a group of local businessmen on a trade mission to Cuba later this week. They said they hope to land deals with officials in that island nation to help with economic development — capitalizing on ties locals have already made with Cuban officials.
“We’ve already had the Cubans up here, a couple month ago, we met with them,” O’Brien said. “We had great discussions. They met with these business leaders, so we’re already ahead of the curve.”
Ryan said there are plenty of business opportunities for Valley businesses in Cuba — from road and bridge improvements to the construction of housing and ports.
“They have so many opportunities down there for our businesses to go and do work, and make money, and bring some of those revenues back here,” he said.
The move to look for economic opportunities comes as the Obama Administration and the government of Cuban President Raul Castro work to ‘normalize’ relations between the two countries for the first time since the late 1950s.