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Kenney staffers heading to Europe on a trade mission

Members of Mayor Kenney's administration will travel to Europe this month on a trade mission stopping in Germany, Portugal, and France.

Members of Mayor Kenney's administration will travel to Europe this month on a trade mission stopping in Germany, Portugal, and France.

Kenney, who as a councilman and then as a mayoral candidate criticized Mayor Michael Nutter's international travel during his second term, will not join the 18-person delegation.

Select Greater Philadelphia, an arm of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce which receives some city funding, is covering the $14,000 cost of the trip for Harold Epps, head of the city's Commerce Department and three members of his staff, city spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said.

Representatives from local businesses, universities and associations will round out the delegation and pay their own way, as will City Councilman Al Taubenberger, a former head of the city's Northeast Chamber of Commerce and a son of German immigrants.

Kenney was a frequent critic of Nutter's travel abroad, which included economic development trips to China, the United Kingdom and Israel.

He argued in 2013 that low-skill industries in the Lehigh Valley or Lancaster would help the city's workforce more than high-tech firms overseas.

"If the mayor wants to go on the road, he should go on the road up the turnpike," Kenney said then. On the campaign trail he said he personally would not travel abroad in his first term.

Eight months into his term, Kenney has no plans to go overseas, Hitt said, "unless his presence was necessary to close an important economic deal for the city."

She said this first international trade mission of the administration will focus on companies already considering locating in Philadelphia.

"In keeping with the Mayor's previous statements that these trade missions should be that and not junkets, we have significantly decreased the amount of city staff traveling abroad in comparison to previous City trade missions," Hitt said. "And we also targeted their outreach to highly probable leads."

The group's first stop on the trip, which runs Sept. 24-30, is Frankfurt, Philadelphia's newest sister city.

The delegation will attend the Organization of World Heritage Cities Conference 2016 in Stralsund, Germany, and then split up to visit potential businesses in Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

In addition to pitching Philadelphia as a destination for foreign companies, the group will also visit area high schools, vocational training facilities, and a science and technology park to study Germany's well-regarded workforce development model.

Epps will travel to Portugal, where he will meet with Mayor Basílio Horta of Sintra and local business leaders.

His chief of staff, Sylvie Gallier Howard, will join Philadelphia's French-American Chamber of Commerce in Lyon, France, to present to a group of French businesses about Philadelphia's biotechnology and IT sectors.

Taubenberger, who is fluent in German, said he hopes the trip turns the sister city relationship between Frankfort and Philadelphia into something more concrete.

He'd like to see more flights between the cities, arrange a game between the Philadelphia Union and the Frankfurt soccer club, Eintracht Frankfurt, and set up a student exchange program between universities.

Members of the delegation will also tour DB Schenker headquarters, Taubenberger said. The Frankfurt company, which handles transportation and logistics for Europe's largest rail company, has an office in Philadelphia.

"We're sister cities with a number of places - Milan, Tel Aviv," Taubenberger said. "But we need to strengthen what that means as far as exchange of people, schools, ideas."

215-854-5506 @juliaterruso