Tue. 10:08 p.m.: Local leaders plan trade delegation to Cuba

Area business leaders will make a trip to Cuba in October if negotiations being conducted by state Rep. Sean J. O’Brien, D-Bazetta, and U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, are successful.

O’Brien, along with Ron Grimes, Ryan’s chief of staff, spent today at the recently reopened Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., with Juan Lamigueiro Leon, deputy chief of Cuban interest in Washington, D.C., and Sergio J. Vazquez del Rio, second secretary of interest, discussing the possibility of a trade delegation of Mahoning Valley business and political leaders.

“We are looking to have the trip occur in mid-October,” O’Brien said. “We are hoping to have another meeting in September to formalize the details.

“We are looking to find out what are their needs and what our businesses can provide,” O’Brien said. “We want to make this the best trade delegation we can to provide business opportunities for Valley businesses.”

O’Brien said the infrastructure in Cuba needs a lot of work and Mahoning Valley skilled tradesmen and businesses have the background to provide the types of services they need.

Thomas Humphries, president of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, said the chamber has been working with officials for nearly a year to establish increased relations between businesses in the Mahoning Valley and Cuba.

“We spoke with officials about a week or two prior to the president’s announcement of the reopening of the embassies,” Humphries said. “Timing is everything.”

Humphries said this will be a great opportunity for northeast Ohio.

“Cuban agriculture is known for underperforming,” he said. “Northeast Ohio is known for its agriculture. It is a good opportunity.”

Read more of this story in the Wednesday Tribune Chronicle.