Alabama State Council

John McMillan
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Industry

Greg Canfield
Commissioner, Alabama Department of Commerce
J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner
Former Senate Majority Leader, Rules Chairman
Sandy Stimpson
Mayor of Mobile
Vivian Figures
Former Senate Minority Leader, Finance Committee, Local Legislation

Victor Gaston
Alabama House of Representatives, Acting Speaker of the House
James K. “Jimmy” Lyons
Director/CEO, Alabama State Port Authority
Johnny Adams
Executive Director, Alabama Poultry Association
Billy Powell
Executive Vice President, Alabama Cattlemen Association
Jerry Carl
President, Mobile County Commission
Greg Reed
Alabama Senate, Senate Majority Leader
Quinton Ross
Alabama Senate, Senate Minority Leader
Hank Sanders
Alabama Senate, Banking and Finance Committees
Tom Whatley
Alabama Senate, Chairman, Agriculture Committee
Rusty Glover
Alabama Senate, Agriculture Committee
Clay Scofield
Alabama Senate, Agriculture Committee
Tim Melson
Alabama Senate, Agriculture and Tourism Committees
Gerald Dial
Alabama Senate, Energy and Veterans Affairs Committees



Mark Jackson
Alabama Honorary Consul General, Japan; Morrison Conference, Inc.
John Key
International Trade Consultant
Pan American Council on Trade, LLC
Jerry Lathan
Lathan Company
Scott Myers
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Mitt Walker
International and Federal Regulations
Alabama Farmers Association
Scott Phillips
Strada Professional Services, LLC, Engineering
Mayra Diaz, International Sales
Amerex Corporation
Grey Redditt
Maynard Cooper and Gale Law Firm,
Mobile Sister Cities Commission

Stanley Murphy
Murphy & Murphy, LLC;
The Cuba Center, University of Alabama
Christina McInnis, Bilateral Trade with Cuba
GulfWise Commerce
D. Davies Hood, Jr., President
Induron Coatings
Springna Zhao, Partner
LAN Consulting LLC
Beth Chapman
Former Alabama Secretary of State, 
Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC
Mark A. Froehlich, Principal
Impact Partners
Sara Kate Sullivan
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Buenos Aires, Argentina)




Press release: Engage cuba, state leaders launch Alabama State Council


Alabama Legislature Unanimous Call for Congress to Lift Cuban Embargo Is 'Significant'

Today, the state of Alabama became the latest state to call on Congress to listen to the majority of Americans from both parties to lift the Cuban trade embargo and normalize relations with the Island’s government. Op-ed: Travel, trade embargo on Cuba hurts Alabama businesses

by Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Sen. Vivian Figures, Sen. Jabo Waggoner, and Commissioner John McMillan

Despite the fact that the Port of Mobile is located just across the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama businesses will continue to lose out on Cuba's growing markets to foreign competitors until Congress ends the U.S. travel and trade embargo on Cuba.

Bloomberg: Cuba's First American-Owned Manufacturer Will Make Tractors

“Come on, boy! Get dressed! We got to go!” yells Horace Clemmons. He’s heckling his longtime friend and business associate, Saul Berenthal, who sits cross-legged on a leather chair in the living room of Clemmons’s home in Paint Rock, Alabama. 

Birmingham Business Journal: Cuba Market Would Be Lucrative to Alabama, Report Says

With American trade and travel restrictions on Cuba loosening, a new report suggests Alabama could significantly benefit from further growth in economic ties between the two nations. 

Miami Herald: Alabama Company Says Cuba Needs its Tractors, But Approval Process is Slow

An Alabama tractor company angling to become the first American business in more than a half century to set up manufacturing operations in Cuba is about midway through the approval process. 

People's World: Alabama Tractors Till the Soil of U.S.-Cuba Cooperation

Saul Berenthal and Horace Clemmons have a dream. They want to outfit the farmers of Cuba with small, customizable, easy-to-repair tractors. 

Wear-TV: Area business to sell goods to Cuba

Despite a continuing trade embargo with Cuba, Gulfwise Commerce has become an exception. Earlier this month, federal officials gave them a license to sell some goods to the island nation. 

Alabama Newscenter: The Cuba thaw will be big for Alabama and other producers of frozen chickens

Less than 100 miles off the U.S. coast sits an island nation that can't feed itself. Cuba, which imports as much as 80 percent of its food, has developed a huge appetite for American chicken, despite the decades-long trade embargo. 

WearTV: Area business to sell goods to Cuba

An area business is breaking barriers. Despite a continuing trade embargo with Cuba, Gulfwise Commerce has become an exception. Earlier this month, federal officials gave them a license to sell some goods to the island nation. 

Politico: Cuba buys ag equipment from Alabama-based company

The Cuban government has made its first purchase of U.S. commercial equipment since the Obama administration began loosening restrictions on trade with the communist country in December 2014. 

The Crimson White: New Exhibit from Chip Cooper Compares South Alabama and Cuba

The walls of Chip Cooper’s office are a collage of memories and stories more photograph than wall, and his furniture — a display of about 25 different cameras spanning the past half-century. 

The Anniston Star: Alabama Entrepreneurs Hope Cuba is Fertile Territory for New Venture

In less than two weeks, American businessmen Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal will board a chartered flight for Cuba. Their destination: an agricultural fair in Havana, the island nation’s capital.

Alabama News: Alabama Company Approved to Build Factory in Cuba

Cleber LLC is pleased to announce that it has received authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to build a tractor manufacturing facility in Cuba. 

Agri View: Alabama Firm to Build Cuba Plant

Cleber LLC plans to build a tractor-manufacturing facility in Cuba after receiving authorization form the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The New York Times: Culture Gap Impedes U.S. Business Efforts for Trade with Cuba

They have gone to Cuba with plans to build houses. To assemble tractors. To buy apps from young programmers. Even to import charcoal made from the sickle bush that grows in vast stretches across the island. 

Local 15: Local Business with Cuba

The future of trading with Cuba; Presidential candidates talked about it last night and one local company was listening in closely. Right now efforts to do business with the communist “island nation” are already underway. One local company out of Foley is hoping they can keep the momentum going. Sewell Seeks Economic Opportunities for Alabama with Cuba Trip

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, began a five-day trip to Cuba on Wednesday as part of a congressional delegation looking into more American economic opportunities in the island nation. While there is a trade and travel embargo with Cuba, certain American agricultural products — Alabama’s biggest industry — are exempt form the ban. The Yellowhammer state exported nearly a third of a billion dollars in products to Cuba last year. Cuba Embargo News: How Would Alabama Benefit From End to Travel, Trade Ban?

James Williams, the president of Engage Cuba, an umbrella coalition of private sector companies, trade associations and nonprofits that are working to help Congress end the embargo, said there are “very immediate, natural benefits” to Alabama if the 55-year-old embargo is lifted. 

Alabama Public Radio: Alabama seeks to lift Cuba embargo, deadline for north AL Disaster Loans

Addie Bryant is the chief of staff at Engage Cuba. She says if the resolution is passed, Alabama can expect to see some definite economic benefits. "You'll see the Port of Mobile pick up business."

Local 15: Alabama benefits from improved Cuba relations

In the president's speech in Havana, he called for the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba to be lifted and for Cubans themselves to embrace change. But could that change create opportunities in the Port City? 

Montgomery Advertiser: Cuba Trade Expansion Could Mean Good Things for Alabama Businesses

Still, Alabama could profit from a shift in Cuba policy, said Jimmy Lyons, chief operating officer for the Alabama Port Authority, which operates the Port of Mobile. Auburn University Signs Pact with Cuba: Why it Matters to Alabama

Beyond the headlines of new diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Auburn University is put that diplomacy into action. 

YellowHammer Radio: Byrne: Cuba Could be a Major Trade Partner for Alabama, But Has a Long Way to Go

I recently traveled to Cuba as part of a Congressional Delegation to learn more about the Cuban government, visit with the Cuban people, and discuss everything from the economy to education to trade.

Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama Could Benefit from U.S.-Cuba Thaw

Selling chickens to Cuba is complicated. “If the Cubans want to buy chickens in the United States, before they load it on a ship, they have to pay a bank outside the country,” said Jimmy Lyons, director of the Alabama State Port Authority, which oversees the docks in Mobile.

Tuscaloosa News: Cuban Novelist Leonardo Padura Will Speak at University of Alabama

Cuban novelist and screenwriter Leonardo Padura will present a free public lecture at the University of Alabama on Jan. 21. U.S. Recognizes in Cuba What Mobile has Seen for Decades: Opinion

Sealing an unofficial sister city relationship with Havana, Mobile Mayor Mike Dow said during a trip to Cuba in 1994: “We must take an effort to get along and create a better world.” 

UA News: UA Establishes Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved today the establishment of the Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship at UA. 

The Crimson White: Alabama Student Studies Abroad in Havana, Cuba

"My general routine is mostly the same, but the details are much different. First thing every morning in the U.S., I check the weather on my phone, but here I have to pay for Internet by the hour, and I can only use it in the lobby of our hotel." State, mobile leaders call for open trade with cuba

State Sens. J.T. "Jabo" Waggoner and Vivian Figures, as well as Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, were among those on hand to establish the formation of the Alabama State Council of the Engage Cuba coalition. Alabama Has a Proud, Rich History with Cuba, We Should Capitalize On It

No one would ever confuse us with communist sympathizers, but Alabama has a surprisingly strong relationship with Cuba. In fact, over the last several decades, Alabama has spearheaded efforts to reopen trade and deepen the US relationship with Cuba. 


Alabama's Champions

  Governor Robert Bentley (R)   Signed SJR 43: Joint State Resolution to Urge Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

Governor Robert Bentley (R)

Signed SJR 43: Joint State Resolution to Urge Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

  Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL-5)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL-5)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  State Senator J.T. Waggoner (R)   Represents District 16  Sponsor of  SJR 43: Joint State Resolution Urging U.S. Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

State Senator J.T. Waggoner (R)

Represents District 16

Sponsor of SJR 43: Joint State Resolution Urging U.S. Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

Arkansas State Council

Hope Benedict
Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc.

Dow Brantley, Chair
USA Rice and Arkansas Rice Federation

Donald Bobbitt, President
University of Arkansas System

Bruce Burrow, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Wayne Callahan, Senior Advisor
Vestar Capital Partners

Mark Cochran, Vice President for Agriculture
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Terry Freeman, Consultant; Former President
Bibler Brothers Lumber and Construction

David Gairhan, Vice Chair
Arkansas Rice Farmers

Tim Graham, President
HUNT Ventures 

Andrew Grobmyer, Executive Vice President
Agricultural Council of Arkansas

Derek Haigwood
Arkansas Farmer

Burt Hanna, President & CEO, Hanna's Candle Company

Gary Heathcott, President

Dan Hendrix, President & CEO
World Trade Center Arkansas

Byron Holmes, Chair
USA Rice Nutrition Subcommittee

Mark Isbel, Farmer
USA Rice

Jennifer James, Chair, USA Rice Sustainability Committee

Bradley Manis, President & CEO
Mannco Fertilizer

Todd Martin, Executive Director & CEO
Independent Professional Seed Association

Kevin McGilton, Vice President
Riceland Foods

DeAnn McGrew, Director, Agriculture & Volunteer Programs
Winrock International

     Janet Harris, Director of Programs
     Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

Randy McNeil, President
Poinsett Rice & Grain

Mark Middleton, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Robert Moery, Agriculture Liaison
Governor Asa Hutchinson

Herbert Morales, President
Latin American Business Solutions

Ben Noble, President
Noble Strategies

Steve Orlicek, President
Arkansas Rice Council; Rice Farmer

Linus Raines, Vice President
ATA International;
Director of Business Development, 
Green Stamp America, Inc.

Bill Reed Riceland, Vice President of Public Affairs

Mike Roberts, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Jeff Rutledge
Arkansas Rice Council

Mark Simmons, Chairman
Simmons Foods, Inc. & Affiliates

Cameron Smith, President
Cameron Smith & Associates

Keith Smith, Founder
Keith Smith Company

Chuck Stutte
Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc.

Johnny Sullivan, Vice President Sales & Marketing
Producers Rice Mill

Randy Veach, President
Arkansas Farm Bureau

Larry Wallace, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture

Melanie Wells,
ETW Enterprises, Inc. Shavings & Rice Hulls

    Andrew Grobmyer
    Executive Vice President, Agricultural        
    Council of Arkansas

    LSB Industries


Arkansas' Champions

                     Arkansas & Cuba in the News


Southwest Times Record: Arkansans "engaging" Cuban business

Engage Cuba, a coalition of private businesses and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, launched its Arkansas State Council at a press conference co-sponsored by USA Rice this week.

Southwest Times Record: Coalition seeks grassroots support in Arkansas for end to Cuba embargo

Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and organizations advocating an end to the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, said Monday it is launching an Arkansas group to organize grassroots support for a change in U.S. policy toward the island nation.

Arkansas Times: Arkansas rice growers push for Cuba trade

Engage Cuba, a business coalition, began an Arkansas affiliate today with a call for an end to travel and trade embargoes with Cuba.

Arkansas Business: Engage Cuba launches Arkansas council, calls for an end to trade restrictions

Engage Cuba President James Williams said Monday that Cuba would pledge to buy a significant amount of rice from the U.S. should the Congress allow trade on credit between the countries.

NWA: Cuban delegates talk trade & tourism at University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas, welcoming delegates from Cuba for a historic visit. Wednesday, the World Trade Center Arkansas, an extension of UA, hosted three delegates from the Cuban Embassy. 

Talk Business & Politics: Cuba group visits northwest Arkansas, Hanna's Candle owner hopes to open a plant in Cuba

Burt Hanna, owner of Fayetteville-based Hanna’s Candles and a longtime supplier to Walmart U.S., told Talk Business & Politics he is working on a proposal to set up a small manufacturing site in Cuba. 

Arkansas Matters: Arkansas and Cuba officials kick off trade discussions

While President Obama has been working to re-establish relations in Cuba, Arkansas has been doing the same. 

Delta Farm Press: Cuba working group goals and protecting farming operations

In mid-December, a working group from the House announced it would begin studying how best to deal with the emerging U.S./Cuba trade relationship. 

Delta Farm News: Arkansas leaders form new Engage Cuba state council to promote trade

The effort to restore Cuba as a major market for U.S. rice and other agricultural commodities took another step forward with the launch Monday (April 11) of the Arkansas State Council for Engage Cuba.

University of Arkansas: World Trade Center Arkansas delegation makes second Cuba visit

A World Trade Center Arkansas-led delegation of 25 business leaders, food producers, and educators made a second visit to Cuba, starting June 26.  

Reuters: In Cuba, Arkansas governor seeks to chip away at embargo

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday urged the U.S. Congress to allow food companies to sell to Cuba on credit, favoring it as a first step in a gradual repeal of sanctions against the Communist-led island. 

Arkansas Business: Cuba, Arkansas officials to hold agriculture roundtable

Winrock International, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and The Howard Baker Forum are planning a two-day, invitation-only roundtable examining how normalizing relations with Cuba could affect the American food and agriculture sector. 

University of Arkansas: Cuba ready to import Arkansas rice but embargo must go, diplomat says  

Arkansas rice would be popular in Cuba and the nation wants to buy it if the U.S. trade embargo is lifted, a Cuban diplomat said Wednesday.

NPR: Crawford discusses Cuba trip & embargo on Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas leads the nation in the amount of rice grown and is the 2nd largest poultry producer in the nation—two staples of Cuban cuisine. The Engage Cuba coalition made a comment about how Congress is handling the embargo. 

CBS Little Rock: Ark. Business: Engage Cuba, fiscal session, Dave and Buster's

A coalition of Arkansas business and academic leaders are joining a growing group calling for the end of the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. A group called “Engage Cuba” announced Monday the creation of an Arkansas State Council. 

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: In Little Rock, group calls for lifting of Cuba trade restrictions

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also visited Cuba, and a representative from his office was among the group of 37 officials representing the state, agricultural and business interests to be named on the Arkansas council of the Engage Cuba Coalition, which seeks normalized relations. 

NPR: Group for ending Cuba embargo launches Arkansas council

James Williams, President of the umbrella group, Engage Cuba, said Arkansas lawmakers are leading the effort to lift the 55 year-old trade embargo against the country. 

The City Wire: Rep. Crawford: Cuba on cusp of change, U.S. should help open up the nation

Cubans are a proud people entering a period of major social change, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said Monday after returning from his first trip there last week. 

KFSM: Governor Asa Hutchinson arrives in Cuba for trade meetings  

Governor Asa Hutchinson is in Cuba, exploring opportunities to promote trade between Cubans, and the Natural State. 

Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Gov. Asa Hutchinson urges easing of Cuba credit restrictions

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is urging congressional leaders to ease credit restrictions with Cuba and says doing so would open millions of dollars in new markets for his state. 

Star Tribune: In GOP, Emmer takes the lead on Cuba  

‘The House is a huge priority for us,’ said Steven Law, who runs the GOP super PAC American Crossroads and advises the Engage Cuba coalition.

Arkansas News: Crawford introduces bill to expand trade opportunities with Cuba

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at increasing trade opportunities with Cuba. 

Arkansas Business: Rick Crawford "very encouraged" after Cuba trip

From April 6-9, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., traveled to Cuba to gain a better understanding of the island country's people, culture, politics and challenges. 

KASU: Crawford explains how Cuba trade embargo affects Arkansas agribusiness

In preparation to his upcoming trip to Cuba, U.S. Representative Rick Crawford educated listeners on how the embargo affects Arkansas in his "Tune In" web series. 

  Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)-Arkansas

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)-Arkansas

  Representative Eric "Rick" Crawford (R-AR-1)   Sponsor of  H.R. 442-Cuba Trade Act of 2017  &  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Eric "Rick" Crawford (R-AR-1)

Sponsor of H.R. 442-Cuba Trade Act of 2017 & H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 - Cuba Agricultural Exports

Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 - Cuba Agricultural Exports

Colorado State Council

















Elaine Ganz Berman
Former Member, Colorado State Board of Education and Trustee, Metro State University of Denver

Dan Lubar
Managing Director, Relay SErvices

Jeff Wasden
President, Colorado Business Roundtable

Anna Alejo
Owner, Alejo PR

Andrea Anderson
President, Colorado Pork Producers Council

Fiona Arnold
Executive Director, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Dr. Steve Berman
Physician, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Chuck Berry
President, Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry

Barry Biffle
President & CEO, Frontier Airlines

Kristy Soccarras Bigelow
President/Owner, Cuba Cuba

Don Brown
Commissioner, Colorado Department of Agriculture

Rebecca Chopp
Chancellor, University of Denver

Tom Clark
CEO, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation

Amy Parsons
Executive Vice Chancellor, CSU

John Cullen
President, Grand Heritage Hotel Group

Kim Day
CEO, Denver International Airport

Navin Dimond
Founder, Stonebridge Group

Hikmet Ersek
CEO, Western Union

Mark Falcone
Founder, Continuum Partners




Colorado & Cuba in the News

Press release: Engage Cuba, Sen. Bennet Launch Colorado State Council


Fresh Plaza: Colorado explores agriculture import/export opportunities with Cuba

Commissioner of Agriculture, Don Brown, and a Colorado contingent of agricultural companies, manufacturers, and a financial services company have recently returned from Cuba to discuss export/import opportunities with the market.

Denver Post: Engage Cuba council launches in Colorado as part of effort to lift travel and trade embargo

The United States has more ties to Cuba than just Miami, including in telecommunications, health care, biotechnology and agriculture. Engage Cuba, a new advocacy organization, wants you to know that. 

Daily Sentinel: Senator Hopes to Boost Colorado Trade with Cuba

As part of an effort to help open up markets in that Caribbean nation, and help boost Colorado’s agriculture exports, the senator has partnered with a group called Engage Cuba, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of private companies and organizations that is working to lift travel and trade embargoes on the island nation.

Denver Post: Colorado congressman in Cuba with Obama with hopes for trade ties

A Colorado congressman in Cuba with President Barack Obama is looking forward to trade ties between his state and the island nation — starting with direct flights.

Colorado Public Radio: As Obama visits Havana, Colorado's Cubans imagine the future

President Obama's visit to Cuba -- the first by a sitting U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge went 88 years ago -- is being followed closely by Colorado's small and tightly-knit Cuban community. 

FOX: Aspen high school students visit Cuba

A group of students from Aspen High School will spend the weekend in Cuba, experiencing what the island nation has to offer. 


The Fence Post: Colorado ag looks to Cuban market with hope and hesitation

A shift in the political tide with Cuba has piqued the interest of U.S. farmers and ranchers, intrigued by the possibility of expanding export opportunities just 90 miles south of the Gulf Coast. 

The Pueblo Chieftan: Congressman open to Cuba trade

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Lakewood, who traveled to Cuba with President Barack Obama, said decades of differences over human rights and political and economic policy won’t be resolved quickly but that he is optimistic for improved trade between the U.S. and the island nation. 

The Denver Post: Colorado businesses can benefit from U.S.-Cuba warmth

Following President Obama’s historic two-day visit to Cuba last week and continued thawing of relations, many Coloradans are poised to pursue business opportunities and stronger civic and cultural connections. 

USA Today: Cuban TV programming to be broadcast in U.S. 

Cuban programming is coming to U.S. airwaves thanks to DISH, the Colorado-based provider with 13.9 million TV subscribers. 

Coloradoan: Congressman hopes for Cuba trade ties

A Colorado congressman in Cuba with President Barack Obama is looking forward to trade ties between his state and the island nation — starting with direct flights. 

Georgia State council 

John C. Key, Executive Director
Pan American Council on Trade, LLC

Jerry Lane, President
Claxton Poultry

Jann Moore, Government Affairs Manager
Caterpillar Inc.

Sam Pardue, Dean 
UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Sean Register, Founder & CEO
Register International

Tas Smith, National Affairs Specialist
Georgia Farm Bureau

Ron Stephens, Chairman
House Economic Development & Tourism Committee

Dennis Wynn, Director
Membership Development, Choice Hotels

Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Stephen Humphreys, President
Athens Imports

Malory Atkinson, Head of Sales & Marketing
1Q- Know Now

Gary Black, Commissioner
Georgia Department of AgriculturE

William F. Bina III, MD, MPH, Dean
Mercer University School of Medicine

Mark Butler, Commissioner
Georgia Department of Labor

Justin Clay, Director of Government Relations
NCR Corporation

Terry Coleman, Former Speaker
Georgia House of Representatives

Billy Crider, Chairman
Crider Inc. 

John Cushnie, SVP, Investor Engagement
Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Larry H. Hanson, City Manager
City of Valdosta

Gainesville Times: Poultry Exports Shift to Mexico, Cuba

The countries the U.S. ships poultry to is an ever-shifting landscape, with politics often playing a key role. 

Fox News Latino: Advocacy Group Engage Cuba Hopes to End Embargo, One State at a Time

If the U.S. embargo on Cuba is lifted in the near future, one of the reasons why is starting to take shape right now in places that at first blush seem unlikely stakeholders in what happens between the two nations — Ohio, Tennessee, Louisiana and Minnesota. 

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Georgia could profit from improved U.S. relations with Cuba

The ongoing thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba offers an excellent opportunity for Georgia to grow its export business with the Communist island nation, state and local economic development and business leaders said Tuesday.

The Red & Black: U.S. may gain lung disease vaccine through improved relations with Cuba

Cuba has developed a potential treatment for lung cancer, and a New York company is trying to bring it to the United States. 

Georgia Public Broadcasting: Engage Cuba Coalition Launches Georgia Council

Engage Cuba, a national 501(c)(4) advocacy group focused on lifting the Cuban trade and travel embargo, established a state council in Georgia late last week.


Op-Ed: Atlanta Business Chronicle: Viewpoint: What U.S.-Cuba Relationship Means for Georgia

by James Williams and Chris Clark

Lifting the embargo on Cuba would provide tremendous opportunities for Georgia businesses and enable economic mobility for the Cuban people. 

Southeast Farm Press: Cuba Advocacy Group, Georgia Ag Leaders Join to End U.S. Embargo

Engage Cuba, an advocacy group, and Georgia ag leaders are tired of losing trade and business opportunities to foreign competitors as Cuban markets open up and grow. 

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Atlanta Forum Focusing on Cuba Business Opportunities

Atlanta executives interested in doing business with Cuba are getting how-to tips this week directly from Cuban government officials. 

ZPolitics: The surprising Economic Connection between Georgia and cuba

On Wednesday, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel of business and political leaders who pitched their predictions on the increasing relationship between Georgia and Cuba.

LaGrage Daily News: Musicologist to Explore Sounds of Cuba

Dr. Greene will discuss Cuban music March 28 during his lecture in the college’s 3D Journeys Cuba series. 

WABE: Ga. Tech project provides Cubans faster access to internet

In Cuba, less than about 5 percent of the population has open Internet access. That’s slowly changing as the government adds a few Wi-Fi hotspots and foreign companies work to update the digital infrastructure.


georgia's Champions

  Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA-7)

Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA-7)

  Representative Austin Scott (R-GA-8)   Co-Sponsor  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act  &  H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

Representative Austin Scott (R-GA-8)

Co-Sponsor H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act & H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

  Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA-4)

Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA-4)

  Representative John Lewis (D-GA-5)

Representative John Lewis (D-GA-5)

  Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative A. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act  &  H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

Representative A. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act & H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act


Chairman: Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter












Peter Grubb, Cuba Travel Specialist
ROW Adventures/Cuba Unbound





Dr. Uwe Reischl, Professor, Community and Environmental Health
Boise State University

Frank Muir, President
Idaho Potato Commission

Arthur F. "skip" Oppenheimer, Chairman/CEO
Oppenheimer Companies Inc.

Senator Jim Patrick, Chairman of Senate Commerce Committee
Idaho State Senate

Marty Peterson, former state budget director
The Hemingway Society

Port of Lewiston

Dan Prinzing, Executive Director
Wassmuth Center for Human Rights

Chance Requa, Farmer
Requa Farms

Jim Rice, Chairman
Idaho Senate Agricultural Committee

Megan Ronk, Director
Idaho Department of Commerce

Dr. Mark Rudin, Vice President, Research and Economic Development
Boise State University

Stacey Satterlee, Executive Director
Idaho Grain Producers Association

Terri Schorzmann, Director, Department of Arts & History
City of Boise

Bryan Searle, President
Idaho Farm Bureau

Casablanca Cuban Grill



Idaho & Cuba in the News

Press release: Engage Cuba, State Leaders Launch Idaho State Council

Idaho's Champions

Idaho Statesman: They had Hemingway in common. So John McCain put politics aside to help this Idahoan.

The senator was extremely hospitable and, when he found out about our interest in Hemingway, promptly began quoting passages from “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” He asked how he might help us. He explained that he detested the Castro brothers and the Cuban government. But he also felt that differences in political philosophies should not be an impediment to a project of such importance.

Moscow-Pullman Daily News: Opinion: Despite Trump, it's time to end the U.S. embargo on Cuba

I recently taught the course "Hemingway in Cuba" through a program affiliated with the University of Havana. I returned to Idaho feeling disappointed once again by failed United States foreign policy.

Idaho Statesman: Remove federal restrictions, let Idaho do more with Cuba

The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA) began the first small but critical step toward the United States reestablishing meaningful ties with Cuba.

Idaho Press-Tribune: Idaho Leaders Should Push End to Cuba Trade Embargo

Some of Idaho’s top business, government and agricultural leaders are taking what might be an unpopular position with some Idahoans in their push to end the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba.

AP, Idaho Statesman, Fox, KSL: New Idaho Council Seeks to End Cuba Embargo

Engage Cuba on Thursday in Boise announced the launch of Engage Cuba Idaho State Council. So far, 10 other groups have been formed in primarily Republican-dominated states since last year. 

KIVI-TV: Engage Cuba Idaho state council meets for the first time, strategizes better business with Cuba

The distance between Boise and Havana is more than 2,300 miles, but business, cultural and political leaders in Engage Cuba Idaho State Council gathered to discuss and take advantage of the warming political and business relations with Cuba. 

KTVB: Engage Cuba enlists Idaho

The call to end the Cuban trade and travel embargo just got another voice, with the launch of the Engage Cuba Idaho State Council.

The Spokesman-Review: New Idaho Group Calls for an End to Travel and Trade Bans on Cuba

An array of Idaho state and business leaders launched the Engage Cuba Idaho State Council on Thursday, following the lead of 10 other states pushing for Congress to end the travel and trade ban on Cuba. 

The Spokesman-Review: End Cuba trade embargo

The trade embargo with Cuba might be defensible, if it worked. But in the six decades of its existence, it never has. 

Boise Weekly: Destination Cuba: Idaho watches Obama's historic Havana trip with great interest

History is being made in Cuba, as President Barack Obama arrives Sunday in Havana, making him the first United States president since Calvin Coolidge to visit the island nation. 

Idaho Statesman: Visiting Cuba: "We're punishing the wrong people."  

Cuban joke #1: Before the revolution, we had a wealthy class, a middle class, and a huge class of the poor. Then came the revolution and now we are all equal. Everybody’s poor.

Boise Weekly: Otter, eight other governors urging Congress to lift Cuba trade embargo

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who has more than a passing acquaintance with Cuba after having traveled there as a U.S. congressman and as governor, has reached out to leadership in the U.S. House and Senate calling for a complete lift of the travel ban and trade embargo on Cuba. 

Idaho Press-Tribune: Idaho leaders should push to end Cuba trade embargo

Some of Idaho’s top business, government and agricultural leaders are taking what might be an unpopular position with some Idahoans in their push to end the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. 



Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter (R)

  Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)   Cosponsor of  S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Cosponsor of S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

Iowa State Council

Karey Claghorn, Chief Operating Officer
Iowa Soybean Association

Kirk Leeds, Chief Executive Officer
Iowa Soybean Association

Kurt Hora, Vice-President
Iowa Corn Growers Association

Leslie K. Wilson, Dean
University of Northern Iowa College of Business Administration

Mark Settle, Educational Consultant
Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Mike Tousley, Executive Vice President
The Weitz Company, LLC

Rand Fisher, President
Iowa Area Development Group

Ryan Carroll, International Trade Manager
Greater Des Moines Partnership

Steve Dust, President and CEO
Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and TechWorks Campus

Tim Woods, President, Central Iowa Chapter
International Traders of Iowa

Tom Chapman, Executive Director
Iowa Catholic Conference

Tom Swegle, CEO
MedCara Pharmaceuticals

Valerie Newhouse, President
Iowa Lakes Community College

Wes Ehrecke, Board Member
Travel Federation of Iowa

Mike Ralston, President
Iowa Association of Business and Industry

Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture  
State of Iowa

Bishop Richard Pates
Catholic Diocese of Des Moines

Bob Hemesath, President
Iowa Corn Growers Association

Chad Kleppe, President and CEO
Master Builders of Iowa

Charlie Norris, Director
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation

Cheryl Langston, Chair
Iowa Association of Community College Trustees

Craig Hill, President
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation

Daniel Seufferlein, Partner
Ackley, Kopecky & Kingery LLP

David Holm, Executive Director
Iowa Institute for Cooperatives

Dimy Doresca, Director
University of Iowa Institute for International Business

Downing Thomas, Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs
University of Iowa

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, Dean
Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Evan Berquist, Attorney
Frederikson and Byron

Farzad Moussavi, Director of Global Programs
University of Northern Iowa College of Business Administration

Grant Kimberley, Executive Director
Iowa Biodiesel Board

Jay Byers, Chief Executive Officer
Greater Des Moines Partnership

Jerry Mohr, Chair
Iowa Corn Growers Association

Iowa's State Champions

Op-Ed: Des Moines Register: Restrictions on Cuba Hold Iowans Back

by James Williams and Bob Hemesath

Ending the travel and trade restrictions with Cuba would provide tremendous opportunities for Iowa businesses and enable economic mobility for the Cuban people. 

Iowa Public Television: Vilsack Hosts Cuban Agricultural officials in Iowa

Sec. Tom Vilsack:  “We have a tremendous opportunity in Cuba to expand exports of soybeans, rice and poultry at some point."

KCRG: Agribusiness Report: Cuba Delegation Explores Ag Science and Technology

In a historic delegation to Iowa by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the Cuban Minister of Agriculture Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, science and technology were big topics.

WNAX: Engage Coalition Formed in Iowa

The Engage Cuba coalition was formed in Iowa this weekend when Cuba’s Ag Minister visited the Hawkeye state. 

WHO-TV: Historic Visit By Cuba Delegation

In a historic trip, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the Agriculture Minister of Cuba Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero was in Iowa as part of a delegation. 

KCRG-TV: Lobbying Group Forms Iowa Council on Lifting Cuba Trade Embargo

Engage Cuba's new Iowa state council is made up of more than two dozen Iowa industry leaders and government officials, including Iowa's secretary of agriculture. 

Sioux City Journal: Vilsack, Cuban Counterpart Visit Iowa

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Cuban Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero spent Friday touring highlights of Iowa farming and searching for common ground for agriculture as a starting point for normalizing relations between the two countries. 

The Quad-City Times: Vilsack gives Cuban Minister Taste of Iowa Ag

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Cuban Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero spent Friday touring highlights of Iowa farming and searching for common ground with agriculture as a starting point for normalizing relations between two countries at odds for decades.

Our Quad Cities: Engage Cuba Launches its Iowa State Council

That's why top officials are joining Engage Cuba, a group urging congress to lift the embargo completely.

Radio Iowa: Cuban Ag Secretary Visits Iowa Farm to Talk Trade

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his Cuban counterpart Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero toured a central Iowa corn and soybean farm todayand talked about water, soil, and energy. 

Des Moines Register: Iowa Farmer Hosts Top Cuba officials, Gets Cigars

Only a few years ago, it wouldn't have seemed possible. But on Friday morning, Aaron Heley Lehman's organic farm in Polk City played host to some of Cuba's top governmental officials. "It's just unbelievable," Lehman said.

We Are Iowa: Cuba & Iowa Officials Meet, Talk Agribusiness in Central Iowa

Cuban officials are visiting Iowa’s top agricultural officials Friday. It’s been 55 years since the economic embargo and trade restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. 

Tama News-Herald, Toledo Chronicle: Iowa Delegation Pleased with Trade Mission Efforts in Havana, Cuba

Trust, confidence and forging lasting bonds that will benefit both Iowans and Cubans. That's the message from Iowa legislators and participants who just returned from a trade mission to Havana, hoping to create economic and business agreements between Iowa business owners and entrepreneurs and the Cuban people.

The Gazette: Two Iowa lawmakers leading trade mission to Cuba

Two Democratic state legislators announced Thursday they will lead a delegation visiting Cuba next week looking to form relationships between Cuba and Iowa in order to open up options for potential future trade. 

Cedar Rapids Gazette: Some Iowans worried about Trump's new Cuba restrictions

The nearly 60-year-old embargo is harmful for Iowa farmers while other nations benefit from trade with a country just 90 miles from U.S. shores, added Jerry Mohr, an at-large director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and a member of Iowa’s Engage Cuba coalition state council, a national nonpartisan organization working to end travel and trade restrictions on Cuba.

Des Moines Register: Iowa Lawmakers See Trade Opportunities in Cuba 

Two Iowa legislators have returned from a trade mission to Cuba saying they see a potential for business ties with the Caribbean nation, but were struck by its lack of infrastructure and a lack of basic public services that Americans take for granted.

Times-Republican: Iowa-Cuba Relationship Continues to Develop

President Obama's announcement this week he will travel to Cuba next month reaffirms a local lawmaker's efforts in trying to establish economic ties between the island nation and the state of Iowa. 

Daily Iowan: Cuba May Aid Iowa Farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was among a group of American officials who accompanied President Obama on his historic visit to Cuba on Monday, and Iowa farmers are seeing dollar signs. 

Counterpunch: Cuba Reflections: On life and death

It’s not very often that you hear or see a salaried U.S. corporate media employee defend Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s Cuban Revolution and its accomplishments. 

Iowa City Press-Citizen: Local family's Cuba video shows vintage taxis, heart

You may recall a story last month about an Iowa City family’s two-pronged Christmas trip to Cuba to assist at a church and tour Havana. 

ABC News: Agribusiness Report: Farm Sales to Cuba increased without embargo lift

There is the possibility of increased trade and agricultural goods, which farm groups like the American Farm Bureau are pushing for. 

The Gazette: University of Iowa eyes Cuban study

As a University of Iowa senior studying political science and psychology, Jake Murphy long has been intrigued by Cuba. The island nation’s political and economic isolation from the United States since the 1960s has made it a sort of “forbidden fruit” for Americans, Murphy said.  

The Des Moines Register: Will Cuba be a gold mine for Iowa business? 

Many American businesses believe re-establishing trade with Cuba will prove a financial windfall, allowing them to bring their products and services to a market that’s been all but forbidden over the last five decades. 

The Gazette: Iowa lawmakers open Cuban doors

After visiting Cuba back in January, State Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt returned with a refreshed appreciation for democracy. And toilet paper. 

Radio Iowa: Engage Cuba Coalition Launches in Iowa

The Engage Cuba coalition is launching a state council in Iowa. Coalition president James Williams spoke at a news conference in Des Moines where he says the goal is to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. 

WHOTV: Engage Cuba Coalition Urging Iowans to Put Pressure on Politicians

Last summer, President Obama began renewing relations with Cuba by opening the U.S. Embassy. However, the effort to lift the Cuba's trade embargo is still far from over. 

Des Moines Register: Vilsack Hopes Meeting Will Push Congress on Cuba Trade Deal

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he is optimistic a visit with his Cuban counterpart Friday in Iowa can help build pressure on Congress to fully lift the embargo on trade with the communist country. 

AgWeb: Trade Groups Push Promise of Cuba for U.S. Farmers

Opening the door to U.S. ag exports to Cuba could reap substantial gains for U.S. farmers, who have lost market share to competitors in Asia and Latin America, according to a new ag trade report. 

CBS: What Do Iowans See in Cuba? Opportunity

Some Iowans hope a trip to a place few could travel to before--Cuba--will bring new connections and possibilities for themselves and the state. 

  State Senator Steve Sodders (D)   Represents District 36  Sponsors SR 6, Resolution Urging the US Congress to Lift the Cuban Embargo

State Senator Steve Sodders (D)

Represents District 36

Sponsors SR 6, Resolution Urging the US Congress to Lift the Cuban Embargo









Ken Wood, Vice President
Kansas Association of Wheat Growers

Chris Gutierrez, President
KC SmartPort

Jay Armstrong, Past Chairman
Kansas Wheat Commission

Pat Damman
Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association

Kevin Ekstrand, Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Scarbrough International

Lucas Heinen, Vice President
Kansas Soybean Association

Dennis Hupe, Director of Field Services
Kansas Soybean Commission

Brian Linin, Chairman
Kansas Wheat Commission

Mike Jordan, President
Kansas Association of Wheat Growers

Leslie Kaufman, President/CEO
Kansas Cooperative Council



WallacesFarmer: Trade, tariffs top Kansas farmers' 2018 Farm Bill concerns

Marshall said he does believe the U.S. should seek to normalize relations with Cuba and that opening that market would be good for American agriculture. 

Salina Post: Moran visits with local constituents

During the gathering, a woman in the audience asked Moran why the U.S. doesn’t trade with Cuba. Moran said that while he doesn’t believe that the U.S. should subsidize sales to Cuba, he does believe that if Cuba has the money to buy goods from the U.S., the U.S. should be able to sell those goods to Cuba.

He noted the Constitution provided the legislative arm of government with the ability to deal with trade with other countries, but that over the years, that ability was transferred to the executive branch. Moran said Congress has made a less-than-adequate attempt to take back that authority.

The Wichita Eagle: Op-Ed: Opening trade helps Cuba, Kansas

With current decade-low commodity prices and pressures on the U.S. agriculture economy, we need to be strengthening trade relationships, not prohibiting them.

Butler County Times-Gazette: Cuban Millers Meet Kansas Farmers

An informational exchange with a group of Cuban flour mill professionals will be hosted by Kansas Wheat this week. The millers represent two of the six flour mills in Cuba and the even will allow these Cuban millers to experience Kansas farming and its wheat industry first hand.

The Washington Times: Kansas ag groups push for lifting of trade embargo with Cuba

The Wichita Eagle reports that Engage Cuba's State Council includes representatives of the Kansas Wheat Commission, Soybean Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association, and the Kansas Corn Growers Association.

Kansas Wheat: Wheat farmer, ag leaders share desire to open up trade with Cuba

Agriculture leaders representing America’s grain farmers and ag equipment manufacturers expressed their passion for overcoming obstacles to restore agricultural trade with Cuba during a U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) event at Commodity Classic. 

Wichita Business Journal: From Kansas to Cuba

As a fifth-generation farmer, Doug Keesling’s livelihood depends on his ability to sell crops in as many markets as possible, even if that includes exporting to a foreign country.

The Topeka Capital-Journal: Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas agriculture secretary call for Cuba trade expansion

In U.S. Senate testimony Tuesday, a former chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission joined Sen. Pat Roberts in calling on Congress to expand agricultural trade with Cuba. 

NBC Local: Trade with Cuba, opportunity for Kansas Wheat

Wheat is Cuba’s second largest import. “Right now they’re getting that all from Europe and Canada,” said Gary Millershaski, President of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.

Kansas Agland: Working to Break Down Barriers in Cuba

With each trip, Rice County farmer Doug Keesling is seeing a different Cuba. The fifth-generation farmer sat at his kitchen table one spring afternoon, wheat fields surrounding his farmstead. 

Fox News Latino: Kansas hoping relations with Cuba opens up opportunities to export wheat

President Barack Obama's announcement this week to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease some economic restrictions has been closely followed in Kansas, as the move could open up a major market for winter wheat producers.

The Washington Times: Kansas farmer working to break down barriers in Cuba

With each trip, Rice County farmer Doug Keesling is seeing a different Cuba. The fifth-generation farmer sat at his kitchen table one spring afternoon, wheat fields surrounding his farmstead. 

The Kansas City Star: Missouri, Kansas groups to urge business with Cuba

The Engage Cuba Coalition, a national group, on Monday will announce formation of the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council and the Engage Cuba Missouri State Council. 

The High Plains Journal: Engage Cuba and Kansas farmers launch state council

Kansas farm leaders and Engage Cuba gathered in Olathe, Kansas, Sept. 19 to form the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council. 


kentucky state council


Jonathan Blue
Chairman & Managing Director, Blue Equity (Co-chair) 

Ryan Quarles
Commissioner of Agriculture, State of Kentucky (Co-chair)

James Comer
U.S. Congressman (Honorary chair)

Jon Yarmuth
U.S. Congressman (Honorary chair)

Robert Brown
Chairman, District Export Council of Kentucky (Vice Chair)

Richard Grana
Owner, Impex (Vice Chair)

Nathan Cryder
Director, Edelen Strategic Ventures (Vice Chair)



Interfaiths Path to Peace

Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz
Archdiocese of Louisville

Andrew McMichael
Associate Dean of Potter College, Western Kentucky University

Bill Miller
Executive Director, Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority

Sam Rock
Cofounder, Bluegrass Distilling

Sister Cities of Louisville

Jonathan Steiner
CEO, Kentucky League of Cities

Griffin Van Meter
Founder, Kentucky for Kentucky

Bryan Warren
Director of Globalization, Louisville International Organization Network

J. Edwin Webb
President & CEO, World Trade Center of Kentucky

Xiao Yin Zhou
Director, Kentucky World Affairs Council

Kaveh Zamanian
President, Rabbit Hole Distillery

Barrel House Distilling Co.

Steven Beam
President, Limestone Branch Distillery

Barbara Boyd
Chair, Kentucky Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression

Keith Bundy
President, Silent Brigade Distillery

Adam Caswell
Asst. Vice President for Government & Corporate Engagement, Northern Kentucky University

Lisa Crutcher
CEO, Catholic Charities of Louisville

Adam Edelen
CEO, Edelen Strategic Ventures

Dr. Robert Farley
Professor, University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy

Jim Gray
Mayor, City of Lexington

Craig Greenberg
President, 21C Hotel and Museum

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Secretary of State, State of Kentucky

Mark Haney
President, Kentucky Farm Bureau

Phil Holoubek
CEO, Lexington Real Estate Company

Kentucky's Champions

Kentucky and Cuba in the News

  Representative James Comer (R-KY-01)   Cosponsor of  H.R.525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act  &  H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act

Representative James Comer (R-KY-01)

Cosponsor of H.R.525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act & H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act

Prensa Latina: Cuban Ambassador Sees Kentucky Businessmen interest in Cuba 

Cuban Ambassador to the United States, José Ramón Cabañas, confirmed the interest of business representatives and other sectors of the state of Kentucky in increasing ties with the island, reported the diplomatic delegation of the Caribbean country.

WEKU FM: Kentucky Businesses interested in Cuba

Representatives from the Kentucky World Trade Center are taking a business related trip to Cuba next month.  Lexington council members received an update last week of trade center activities. 

Business Journals: Jonathan Blue: Kentucky needs to be at Cuba's front door

Previous travel restrictions had hindered most U.S. citizens from experiencing the country for themselves. But the removal of those travel restrictions opened the eyes of the participants and helped them discover potential business opportunities they didn't know existed. 

Bowling Green Daily News: Comer visits Cuba, examines country's agriculture

U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, recently visited Cuba and hopes to restore agricultural trade with the island nation and provide the United States with a valuable new market for agricultural exports. Comer said Cuba is a “logical” market for U.S. trade. 

Business Journals: Kentucky's relationship with Cuba could be as complementary as bourbon and cigars

J. Edwin Webb, president and CEO of the World Trade Center Kentucky, said that if the trade embargo is lifted between the United States and Cuba, it could reap dividends for the state of Kentucky and the 11 million Cubans who suddenly would have access to U.S. products and services. 

Richmond Register: Kentuckians begin first efforts to trade with Cuba

President Obama made headlines recently as the first U.S. leader to visit Cuba since the communist revolution. The two neighboring countries have resumed diplomatic relations and are taking cautious steps toward full normalization, including trade and travel. 


Randy Haynie, President
Haynie & Associates

Jonathan Hobbs, 
Rice Export Logistics,
Russell Marine Group

Pres Kabacoff, CEO
HRI Properties

Caitlin Cain, CEO
World Trade Center of New Orleans

Brandy Christian, President
Port of New Orleans

Dr. Ana Lopez, Director
Tulane University Cuban & Caribbean Studies Institute

Cesar Martino, Director
Intl. Cuba Society,
Owner, Vega Group

Saul Newsome, Attorney
Breazeale Sachse & Wilson, LLP

Mike Olivier, CEO,
Committee of 100

John Owen, Rice Farmer
Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association

Bill Rase, Executive Director
Port of Lake Charles

Mike Strain, Commissioner
Louisiana Department of Agriculture

John Suarez, Financial Advisor
Merrill Lynch

Robert Trahan, Rice Miller
Falcon Rice Mill

Robert Verchick, Environmental Law Chair
Loyola University

James Warshaw, Rice Miller
Farmers Rice Milling Co.

Dr. Aaron Wolfson, Clinical Psychologist
Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group

Lenny Wormser, Senior Managing Director
Latter & Blum

Avery J. Davidson, Assistant Director of Information & PR
Louisiana Farm Bureau

Buck Gladden, President
Gladden Sales LLC


Joe Accardo, Executive Director
Ports Association of Louisiana

Paul Aucoin, Executive Director
Port of South Louisiana

Kevin Berken, Rice Farmer
Southern Louisiana

Ken Bickford, President
Chappapeela Development Corporation

Dr. Pierre Buekens, Dean
Tulane School of Public Health

Joe Morris Doss, President
the Threshold

Mary Dumestre, Attorney
Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC

Ken Duncan, Attorney/Consultant/Businessman,
Former Louisiana State Treasurer

Alina Fernandez, President
Cuba Travel-USA

Michael Fruge, Rice Farmer
Central Louisiana Rice Growers Association

Betsie GambeL, President
Gambel Communications

Annie Gibson, Professor
Tulane Department of Global Education

Sergio Girau, Vice Presidnt, Principal Engineer
Lin eld Hunter & Junius Inc.

Romi Gonzales, Chairman,
Intl. Cuba Society, 
Attorney, Braden Gonzales & Associates

John Haffner, President
Cuba Trade and Travel

Jay Hakes, Former Head
US Energy Information Administration

Bobby Hanks, CEO
Louisiana Rice Milling Co.

Meryl Kennedy Farr
Kennedy Rice Mill, LLC, 
Planters Rice Mill, LLC

José Cot, Attorney/Partner
Hurley & Cot, APLC

Holden Hoggatt, President
Hoggatt Law Group

Don Pierson, Louisiana Secretary
of Economic Development

ABC-Baton Rouge: Agricultural Trade Mission to Cuba

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., recently returned from the island nation of Cuba, where he led a 94-person delegation promoting agricultural trade, economic development and tourism.

New Orleans CityBusiness: South Louisiana ports prepare for possible rekindling of Cuban relations

Engage Cuba, a bipartisan coalition of private businesses and organizations striving to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, launched its Louisiana State Council today in Baton Rouge.

The Advocate: Ending Cuba Embargo Offers Opportunities for Louisiana Farm, Petrochem and Tourism Industries, Coalition Says

Williams’ comments came before a panel discussion and news conference launching Engage Cuba’s Louisiana State Council, whose members include agricultural, port, community and business leaders. 

New Orleans Advocate: Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain leads 940member trade mission to Cuba

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is flying out of New Orleans on Tuesday morning as the head of a 94-member trade mission to Cuba. 

WBRZ ABC: Cuba could be powerful trade ally for Bayou State

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. just returned from a visit to the island nation of Cuba where he led a delegation to promote agricultural trade, economic development and tourism. 

Associated Press: Coalition: Ending Cuba embargo would help LA farmers

James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and organizations that wants to end the ban, touted the possible trade benefits before a news conference the coalition held Thursday to launch Engage Cuba’s Louisiana State Council.

WBRZ ABC: Promoting economic development for LA, group seeks to end Cuban embargo

"Our Louisiana State Council is another example of the momentum in support of lifting the Cuban embargo and opening travel with one of our closest neighbors," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba.

Fox News Latino: President Obama urges business leaders to press Congress to lift Cuba embargo

"For too long, a small minority of status quo defenders sidelined the voices of the vast majority of the American people who support a change in U.S.-Cuba policy," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, in a statement. 

Times Free Press: Tennessee Council joins effort to end U.S.-Cuba trade embargo

Engage Cuba held a round table discussion with the leaders and announced the formation of a 15-member Tennessee State Council, representing an array of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, business and the arts. 

Times Free Press: Tennessee Council joins effort to end U.S.-Cuba trade embargo

Engage Cuba held a round table discussion with the leaders and announced the formation of a 15-member Tennessee State Council, representing an array of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, business and the arts. 

The Times-Picayune: Sailboat Diplomacy: New Orleands sailors blow into Havana with historic race

The skippers and crew -- most hailing from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle -- had raced more than 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico for the privilege of sailing their boats into U.S.-Cuban diplomatic history.

Greater Baton Rouge Business Report: Cracking the . Cuban market: Land of opportunity for Louisiana

There are plenty of Louisiana business sectors that could benefit from improved relations with Cuba.

The Advertiser: Here's how Cuba can help Louisiana flourish

The country is only 700 miles from Louisiana’s coast, making it prime for convenient trade especially from the Port of New Orleans, LaGrange said.

KADN: Louisiana rice producers join over 60 groups to support Farm Bill Cuba Provision

Today, Louisiana rice producers, including the Louisiana Rice Promotion Council and Kennedy Rice, joined a bipartisan group of over 60 agriculture associations, businesses, and elected officials across 17 states in urging House and Senate Agriculture Committees to include a provision in the 2018 farm bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined would save $690 million over 10 years. The suggested amendment, adapted from the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (H.R. 525), would expand agricultural trade with Cuba by removing restrictions on private financing for U.S. food exports. The letter also urges lawmakers to preserve a Senate provision that allows farmers to use federal market promotion funds in Cuba.

Times-Picayune: Op-Ed: Louisiana and Cuba are natural trading partners

by Mike Strain and Joe Accardo

While the Cuban government should ease regulations to allow the growth of U.S. companies investing there, the United States should open up trade with Cuba.

The Advocate: President Trump's stance on Cuba trade comes with high stakes for Louisiana, ag chief Mike Strain says

While the Obama administration appeared to be moving closer toward normalizing relations with Cuba, in part by allowing commercial flights and opening up tourism opportunities, President Trump has signaled some resistance to building on the relationship.

The Town Talk: Louisiana can get "lion's share" of Cuba trade

Cuba imports $2 billion or more in food each year. Louisiana's commissioner of agriculture, Mike Strain, thinks the state is positioned to grab a large share of that. 

Business Report: Louisiana Ag Commissioner Mike Strain on the state's relationship with Cuba

The possibility of the United States lifting its trade embargo on Cuba has Louisiana officials brimming with optimism. The communist nation, on which the U.S. government placed an embargo in 1960, imports billions of dollars worth of food every year to feed its 11 million people.

KATC-ABC: Cuban Connection: Agricultural Delegation Takes a Historic Flight

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain, led a group of 94 Louisianans on a trade mission to Cuba. The delegation, comprised primarily of Louisiana farmers, traveled to Cuba in an effort to forge future trade deals with the country.

The Advocate: Louisiana alliance for Cuba holding workshops on establishing trade with Cuba

Louisiana Álliance for Cuba will host a series of workshops from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 22 at Gallier Hall in New Orleans at 545 St. Charles Ave. for companies and executives interested in establishing trade with Cuba. 

The Advocate: Our Views: Cuba is poor but a new market for Louisiana

While legal and political barriers remain, mere geography is on the side of Louisiana's exporters when it comes to trade with Cuba. 

The News Star: Strain: Lots of Potential in Trade with Cuba

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain believes Cuba's impoverished economy brings an extraordinary opportunity for Louisiana agriculture. 

Ship-Technology: Port of South Louisiana to sign deal with Cuba's NPAC in October

The Port Of South Louisiana is planning to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Port Administration (NPAC) of Cuba in order to promote commerce and growth in both countries. 

American Journal of Transportation: Port of South Louisiana partakes in Louisiana trade mission to Cuba

Last week, Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul G. Aucoin along with Commission President D. Paul Robichaux, Commission Treasurer P. Joey Murray, III, and Commission Secretary Stanley Bazile returned from a 94-member trade mission to Cuba led by Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain.

Prensa Latina: Agricultural Delegation from Louisiana, USA, Travels to Cuba

Commissioner for Agriculture in Louisiana Mike Strain heads a commercial delegation that traveled today to Cuba to negotiate a potential export of food to this country. 

Greater Baton Rouge Business Report: Emerging Latin American Markets Seek More Louisiana Business with Incentives

Jack Jensen has seen plenty of changes since he set up shop as an importer more than 30 years ago at the Port of New Orleans. During that time, lowered trade barriers, improved infrastructure and technological advances have made doing business in Latin America cheaper and more practical. 

Associated Press: Louisiana lawmakers encourage trade relations with Cuba

Louisiana's lawmakers are pushing trade talks with Cuba, now that President Barack Obama has moved to normalize relations with the island nation.

TALK 107.3: Free trade with Cuba could mean billions for Louisiana

A group of congressman is going to Cuba this week on a trade mission. Strain plans another trip this summer.

Greater Baton Rouge Business Report: Louisiana companies contemplate new business prospects with Cuba

But the relationship between the United States and Cuba is beginning to thaw. If that warming trend continues, Louisiana businesses will have a chance to profit from change.

The Times-Picayune: Louisiana rice farmers hope to cash in on trade with Cuba, newspaper reports

Rice farmers in Louisiana are hoping to cash in on trade with Cuba, capitalizing inexpensive transport between the two places and a Cuban preference for rice grown here, according to The Shreveport Times.

Louisiana's Champions

  Representative Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-LA-5)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act  &  H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act

Representative Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-LA-5)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act & H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act

  Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)   Cosponsor of  S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

Cosponsor of S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

  Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA-3)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA-3)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act


Kevin Paap, President
Minnesota Farm Bureau

Doug Peterson, President
Minnesota Farmers Union

Robert Riley, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
University of St. Thomas

Matt Kramer, Ed.D, Vice President for University and Government Relations
University of Minnesota

Kevin Smith, President & CEO
Minnesota Orchestra

Natalie Volin Lehr, Director of Corporate Affairs
Carlson Rezidor Hotels Group

Aasha Wanless, Director of Trade Compliance
Polaris Industries, Inc.

John Wiehoff, CEO
C.H. Robinson Worldwide

Bob Zelenka, Executive Director
Minnesota Grain and Feed Association

Marvin Zutz, Executive Director
Minnesota Barley Council

Jason Adkins, Executive Director & General Counsel
Minnesota Catholic Conference

Patrick Mulvihill, Asst. Provost for Global Education & experience
Augsburg College

Tom Carman, VP Human Resources & Administration
Wenger Corporation

Dave Frederickson, Commissioner
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Jeff Grev, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Hormel Foods Corporation

John Guttery, Senior Vice President
Ecolab Inc.

Rodolfo Gutierrez, Executive Director
Hispanic Advocacy and Community

Lyndel King, President
Weisman Art Museum

Mike Noonan, Vice President
Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc.

John Oswald, PhD Global Health Committee Co-Chair
Minnesota Public Health Association



Minnesota's State Champions

Brownfield: Group travels to DC touting trade with Cuba

A broad coalition of industry leaders will be in Washington, DC this week encouraging lawmakers to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. 

The Desert Sun: Officially end the embargo, let the sun shine on Cuba

Speaking at a Monday event in Minneapolis organized by Global Minnesota and the Engage Cuba coalition, Emmer took the long view on policy that's passed it's usefulness. 

Brainerd Dispatch: After Push from Minnesota Congressional Delegation, DOT Approves Flights from Minnesota to Cuba

On Friday, after an effort from Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen, and Tom Emmer, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved new direct flights between Minnesota and Cuba.

MinnPost: Have the Political Winds Finally Shifted on Lifting the Cuban Embargo?

A lot has changed in the last 55 years in U.S. politics — which party controls Congress and the presidency, the size and reach of the federal bureaucracy, America’s rivals abroad. 

Minnesota Farm Guide: Minnesota Soybean Growers Hope to Provide Soybeans to Cuba

Minnesota’s soybean leadership recently participated in talks at the White House regarding trade opportunities with Cuba. The talks occurred just ahead of a signing ceremony re-establishing the Cuban marketplace for U.S. food and ag products.

Minnesota Farm Guide: Ending Cuba Embargo Could Benefit Region

After decades of a trade embargo against Cuba, there is little evidence that it had any impact on a change in policy or politics on the island nation. 

Twin Cities Pioneer Press: With historic visit, Cuba takes center stage in Minnesota politics

An island more than 1,600 miles from St. Paul dominated politics in Minnesota on Monday. President Barack Obama and three of Minnesota's members of Congress were in Cuba, the first such visit by a sitting U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. 

Duluth News Tribune: Minnesota lawmakers getting warm welcome in Cuba

A historic trade trip to Cuba is going well, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., say. They're optimistic that Congressional efforts to ease restrictions on exports will go well, too.

CBS Minnesota: Sun Country may offer nonstop flights from Minneapolis to Cuba 

Flying nonstop from Minneapolis to Cuba? It's now possible. That's if the federal government approves a request from Sun Country Airlines. 

CBS Minnesota: Klobuchar, Emmer headed to Cuba alongside Obama

The Minnesota members of Congress will be going to Cuba with President Barack Obama next week. 

WCCO CBS Minnesota: State leaders launch Minnesota Engage Cuba State Council

Upon Emmer and Klobuchar’s return, Engage Cuba launched a state council in Minnesota Monday. In addition to announcing Minnesota’s Engage Cuba State Council, there was also an extended discussion that examined how lifting the trade embargo would benefit Minnesota businesses and agriculture.

CBS Minnesota: State Leaders: Trade between U.S., Cuba would boost Minnesota

Monday morning, both Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Emmer spoke to a newly formed coalition in Minneapolis called the Engage Cuba State Council. The group is made of business, academic and community leaders who want to establish a business relationship with Cuba.

Minnesota Farmers Union: Minnesota Farmers Union president nominated to Engage Cuba Minnesota State Council

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President, Doug Peterson has been nominated by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Tom Emmer to be a member of the Engage Cuba Minnesota State Council. 

Star Tribune: End the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba

Speaking at a Monday event in Minneapolis organized by Global Minnesota and the Engage Cuba Coalition, Emmer took the long view on policy that's passed its usefulness.Cuba." 

Northlands New Center: St. Scholastica students to visit Cuba as relations with U.S. improve

With the improving relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, a group of Duluth students is heading to the island nation to see for themselves the economic opportunities there. 

Daily Globe: Minnesota ag commissioner hopeful for more trade with Cuba

When Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson visited Cuba he had to put his past beliefs about the country behind him. 

Minnesota Daily: Carlson students return from Cuban business trip

A group of 30 University of Minnesota students spent their spring breaks in Cuba riding around in cars from the '50s, interacting with locals and soaking in a country previously cut off form the United States. 

WJTV 12: Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator, urges rule changes so U.S. hotels can operate in Cuba

A U.S. senator is urging the Obama administration to ease restrictions on investment in Cuba so American hotels can operate in the island nation.

Mankato Free Press: Our View: Pragmatism and profit in Cuba

Obama has loosened the embargo with executive actions, but officially lifting it will require congressional action. 

Minnpost: Let's beef up trade with Cuba, ag commissioner says

Old habits die hard, but they do die. When Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson visited Cuba, he admitted, "your dukes are up a bit."

Twin Cities Business Journal: MN Businesses, Leaders Join Forces To Support Open US-Cuba Relations

James Williams, President of Engage Cuba said in the release: "Minnesota’s agriculture, biomedical, and energy sectors are thriving. Opening up trade to Cuba and expanding investment opportunities for Minnesota businesses is critical to helping local businesses and the Cuban people."

KSTP ABC 5: Minnesota Businesses Looking to Increase Opportunities in Cuba

Our business community is starting what they call an "Engage Cuba Coalition." The organization is a way to strengthen ties to the country even though the travel and trade embargo remains in place.


  Representative Betty Mccollum (D-MN-4)   Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Betty Mccollum (D-MN-4)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN-5)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN-5)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative Richard Nolan (D-MN-8)    Cosponsors H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

Representative Richard Nolan (D-MN-8)

Cosponsors H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

  Representative Jason Lewis (R-MN-2)   Cosponsors  H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act

Representative Jason Lewis (R-MN-2)

Cosponsors H.R. 442 Cuba Trade Act

























Arden Barnett, President
Ardenland Entertainment

Frank Bordeaux, Vice President
Steward Sneed Hewes/BancorpSouth
Insurance Services

Rose Boxx, International Trade Division Director
Mississippi Authority

Dr. Kim Burke, Dean
Millsaps College Else School of Management

Philip Burnett, Financial Advisor
Coker & Palmer Inc.

Rob Coker, Farmer

Alveno Castilla, Partner
Butler Snow

Hayes Dent, President
Hayes Dent Public Strategies LLC

World Trade Center of Mississippi

Ashley Edwards, President
Gulf Coast Business Council

G.G. Ferguson, President
Ferguson & Associates Architects

Dr. George Hopper, Dean
Mississippi State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Mississippi and Cuba in the News

Press release: Engage Cuba, State Leaders Launch Mississippi State Council

WLOX: Biloxi mayor meets with Cuba representatives, discusses trade opportunities

Because of the city's location on the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Coast is in a great position to trade with Cuba. Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich gave a proclamation to Miguel Fraga, the First Secretary at the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. Fraga has been on the Coast meeting with officials and talking about trade possibilities between his country and the Coast.

The Clarion-Ledger: Mississippians reflect on life in Cuba

Leonardo “Leo” Dopico, owner of Le’s Cuban Kitchen in Hattiesburg and the only Cuban Restaurant in Mississippi, was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. A former attorney in Cuba, he, his wife and child fled the country more than 15 years ago when he was accused of being sympathetic to the Untied States. 

WDAM: Could the Cuban National Baseball Team be coming to Biloxi?

A group on the Mississippi Coast is close to working out a deal that would make Biloxi a part of the new dynamic between the two countries. There is one big thing America and Cuba have in common and that is the love of baseball. 

Sun Herald: Casino executive hopes Yankee great will help lure business, baseball to Biloxi

Bobby Carter has made several trips to Cuba over four years, but next week’s jaunt could be the most fun. He’s going with Yankee Hall-of-Famer Richard “Goose” Gossage, who’s taking four cases of baseballs from the Yankee spring training camp to teach a clinic in Havana.

Mississippi Business Journal: Op-Ed: How Mississippi can benefit from the U.S.-Cuba relationship

Despite the fact that Cuba is located just across the Gulf, Mississippi farmers are losing out on Cuba’s growing market to foreign competitors around the world. Given Mississippi’s world-class ports and proximity to our island neighbor, as well as Cuba’s reliance on food imports, Mississippi is uniquely positioned to be a world leader in exports to Cuba.

SunHerald: South Mississippi Doctors Share Bounty with Cuba

Most people buy souvenirs when they visit abroad. Biloxi plastic surgeon Michael Diaz instead brought duffel bags full of goodies on his second trip to Cuba this year and returned with a commitment from Cuba’s top doctor to speak at Louisiana State University in the fall.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting: New Study Sees Opportunity for MS Farmers in Cuba

A new report by a group that advocates lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba says Mississippi would see significant economic benefits from increased trade with its island neighbor. The Engage Cuba Coalition says Cuba imports as much as 80 percent of its food. 

The Clarion-Ledger: Salter: Delta Council's Focus Practical, Political

For several years, Moran has been an advocate of opening Cuban markets to American farmers: “Developing agricultural trade relations with Cuba will allow the Cuban people to put more pressure on the Cuban government to change its behavior. 

Mississippi's Champions

  Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)   Cosponsor of  S 275 Agricultural Export Expansion Act

Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Cosponsor of S 275 Agricultural Export Expansion Act

  Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Export Expansion Act

Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Export Expansion Act

  Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS-3)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS-3)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative Trent Kelly (R-MS-1)    Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Expansion Act

Representative Trent Kelly (R-MS-1) 

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Expansion Act

  Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS-4)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Expansions Act

Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS-4)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Expansions Act


Gary Murphy
Murphy Farms, Sandy Ridge Cotton

Don Nikodim, Executive Vice President
Missouri Pork Association

Ivry Karamitros, Director
World Trade Center Kansas City

Kevin Ekstrand, Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Scarbrough International

Michael Talboy, Director of Government Affairs
Burns & McDonnell

Steve Taylor, Executive Director
Missouri Agribusiness Association

Gary Wheeler, Executive Director
Missouri Soybean Association

Greg Yielding, Executive Director
Missouri Rice Council; Director of Special Projects/Emerging Markets, 
US Rice Producers Association

Chris Gutierrez, President
KC SmartPort

Dr. Scott Brown
University of Missouri

BJ Campbell
Campbell Farms

Alex Clark
Clark Farms

Michael Collins, President & CEO
Port Kansas City

Paul T. Combs
MO Rice Farmer

Rance Daniels
MO Rice Farmer






The Kansas City Star: Missouri, Kansas Join coalition to urge business with Cuba

The Engage Cuba Coalition, a national group, on Monday will announce formation of the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council and the Engage Cuba Missouri State Council.

Southeast Missouri State University: Vargas Among Trade Delegation Headed to Cuba Next Week

Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, will participate May 29-June 1 in a delegation of Missourians, led by Gov. Jay Nixon, representing agriculture, business, education and government on a trade mission to Cuba.

CBS St. Louis: Cuba formally accepts shipment of Missouri Rice

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that Cuba has accepted a 20-ton shipment of long-grain rice grown and processed in Missouri. 

ABC 17: Trade with Cuba could affect Missouri's economy

It's been three months since President Obama shook hands with Cuban leader Raul Castro. The relationship with Cuba could strengthen every aspect of agriculture in Missouri. 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Nixon Makes Pitch for Trade with Cuba to Help Missouri Farmers, Other Businesses Cash in

Gov. Jay Nixon made a pitch Wednesday to ease economic roadblocks that are keeping Missouri farmers and other businesses from cashing in on Cuba. 

Baptist News Global: Christian engagement growing as Cuba-U.S. ties improve

The level and frequency of United States-based Christian activity in Cuba has been rising since the normalization process between the two countries began in late 2014.

St. Louis Business Journal: Missouri delegation travels to Cuba

Gov. Jay Nixon is leading a group of Missourians representing agriculture, business, education and government on a trade mission to Cuba. The delegation will visit the island nation from May 29 to June 1. 

Farm Progress: Missouri rice lands in Cuba port

A container full of Missouri rice is sitting at the port in Havana, Cuba. It is waiting for Mike Martin and the Missouri trade delegation to arrive next week.


  Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo)    Cosponsor of  S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo)

Cosponsor of S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

  Representative Jason Smith (R-MO-8)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Jason Smith (R-MO-8)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

  Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-4)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Export Act

Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-4)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Export Act

New Mexico State Council

Jeff V. Lopez
President, NM Cattle Growers Association

Alex O. Romero
President and CEO, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce

Herb Thomas
Board President, Santa Fe Council on International Relations

Raymond G. Sandoval
President, Santa Fe Hispano Chamber of Commerce

Art McHaffie
Santa Fe Council on International Relations

Paul J. Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation

Melinne Owens
Former Peace Corps Volunteer & Artist




Simon Brackley
President, CEO, Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce

Vicki Huddleston
Former US Ambassador to Mali

Roselyn Yazzie
Navajo Agriculture Products Industry

Governor Gary Pyne
Pueblo of Picuris

Stuart Ashman
Executive Director, Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe

Marie Longserre
President, Santa Fe Business Incubator

Tony Archuleta
Superintendent, Cuba Independent School District

Xavier Zamarripa
Nativegrown Wines

Vicki M. Nelson
Associate Director for Business Operations, UNM Latin America and Iberian Institute

Gil Vigil Executive Director/Tribal Council Member, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council Inc 


AP: New Mexico coalition starts council to push trade with Cuba

The Engage Cuba New Mexico State Council, made up of agriculture, energy and American Indian representatives, wants to lift travel and trade restrictions on the communist island amid opening relations with the U.S. 

Radio Cadena Agramonte/Radio Reloj: Engage Cuba, U.S. Senator Udall, and State leaders Launch New Mexico State Council

Engage Cuba, a leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to lift Washington's travel and trade restrictions on Cuba, has joined state leaders to launch the bipartisan Engage Cuba New Mexico State Council.

Albuquerque Journal: Group pushing trade with Cuba launches in NM

The Washington, D.C.-based Engage Cuba Coalition on Wednesday added New Mexico to its roster of states with a local council supporting an end to the 56-year-old trade embargo against Cuba.

KRQE: State Senator works to open trade, travel with Cuba

A U.S. Senator from New Mexico is working to open trade and travel with Cuba. On Wednesday, he will speak at a panel discussion to launch a new statewide effort. 

Albuquerque Journal: House panel eyes state Cuban trade office

New Mexico House panel is set to discuss a proposal that would create a state Cuban Trade Office. The House Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee is scheduled Wednesday to debate the bill sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia. 

ABC Albuquerque: Cuban cigars could soon be available in the U.S. 

A thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba could lead to a greater availability of Cuban cigars. Matt Monte knows almost every cigar in his humidor -- and he should.

Santa Fe Reporter: Can New Mexico lead U.S. relations with Cuba? 

A lawmaker wants New Mexico to take immediate advantage of the United States' newly opened relationship with Cuba. 

AP: Flake, Udall working to open Cuban travel, trade

U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Tom Udall of New Mexico pledge to continue working to open U.S. travel to Cuba and trade with the island country. 

Ohio State Council

Procter & Gamble

Ohio Farm Bureau

Ohio AgriBusiness Association

Kegler BrowN

Ryan Augsburger
Ohio Manufacturers Association

Jane Campbell, Former Mayor
City of Cleveland

former President, World Council of Churches

Dr. James W. Campbell, Director
Geriatric Center, The MetroHealth System

Luis Cartagena, Chairman
Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development

Chris Cua, Choice international Hotels

Dr. Michael V. Drake, MD, President,
Ohio State University

José C. Feliciano, Jr.,
Board of Directors of The Hispanic Roundtable

Jim Hartung, President
Toledo Sister Cities, 
Former CEO, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority

Dave Hershberger, President
Prestige Travel Leaders Inc.,
ASTA National Board Member

Todd King, President
Sky Climber LLC

Richard Konick, Charter member
Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Coalition

Kirk Merritt,
Ohio Soybean Association

Danielle Milam, Vice President of Latin America
Franklin International

Brad Moffitt, Director of Market Development
Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers

August A. Napoli, Jr., Chief Advancement Officer
Cleveland Museum of Art

Ike Reynolds, CTC-President,
Owner and ASTA Mid-America Board Member

Patrick Reynolds, Vice President
Reynolds Travel,
ASTA Mid-America Treasurer

Ronald B. Richard, President & CEO
The Cleveland Foundation

Dr. Milton Sanchez-Parodi, Doctor and Cuban-American community leader

Steven D. Standley, Chief Administrative Officer,
University Hospitals

Scott Schertzer, Mayor
City of Marion

Lee Weingart, President
LNE Group

Cincinnati Business Courier: Why the Cuban thaw is good news for Cincinnati businesses

A Xavier University professor who has made two trips with students to Cuba says, in the light of President Barack Obama's visit to the island nation this week, Cincinnati companies would be smart to start making business relationships there. 

Lorain Morning Journal: Rep. Tim Ryan: Open Cuba presents opportunities for Ohio

That is why I am working with local community and business leaders and organizations such as Engage Cuba and their recently announced Ohio State Council to support an end to the Cuban trade embargo.

Fox News Latino: President Obama urges business leaders to press Congress to lift Cuba embargo

"For too long, a small minority of status quo defenders sidelined the voices of the vast majority of the American people who support a change in U.S.-Cuba policy,' said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, in a statement.

Star Tribune: In GOP, Emmer takes the lead on Cuba

Outside Florida and other areas with large Cuban communities, Americans generally favor easing trade and travel restrictions. Last fall, a GOP pollster for the Atlantic Council found more than 60 percent of voters in Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee backed restoring relationships. 

Akron.Com: Old Trail School art teacher visits Cuba

Old Trail School's Middle School visual arts teacher Jeffrey Eason traveled to Havana in October as part of a National Art Education Association (NAEA) delegation.

Op-Ed: Crain's Cleveland Business: Ohio and Cuba, Open for Business

by James Williams

Positioned at the intersection of manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors, Ohio’s economy is a model for the rest of the United States. 

NBC-Columbus: Push in Columbus to end trade embargo with Cuba

Engage Cuba created an Ohio State Council to end the trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Luis Alcalde, a first-generation Cuban-American in Ohio, believes it could help businesses in Central Ohio. 

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Abortion-rights supporters to rally at Ohio Statehouse: What to watch for Wednesday

Cuba embargo opponents meet at City Club: Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and organizations seeking to lift the U.S. travel and trade embargo on Cuba, will announce members of their Ohio State Council during an 11:30 a.m. event at the City Club of Cleveland. 

Kent State University WKSU: Engage Cuba Coalition Draws the Midwest into the Conversation About U.S.-Cuba Relations

James Williams is president of the Engage Cuba coalition. He’s brought together a wide-ranging group of Ohioans to join him in lobbying Congress to allow trade and travel with Cuba.

Ohio Country Journal: Engage Cuba launches a state council in Ohio

Engage Cuba, the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, announced that prominent Ohio business and community leaders have joined together as part of its new Ohio State Council.

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio can win with Cuba ties

Ohio stands to benefit if the Ohio State Council of Engage Cuba, a Washington D.C.-based business group seeking to end the 56-year-old U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba, is successful. 

Ohio's Champions

  Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)   Cosponsor of  S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Cosponsor of S 1287 Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

  Representative Bob Gibbs (R-OH-7)   Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Bob Gibbs (R-OH-7)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Pennsylvania State Council

David Argall, Policy Committee Chair, Pennsylvania Senate

Jim Cawley, Former Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania

Deno DeCiantis, Former Director, The Pennsylvania State University Center Pittsburgh

Pam DeLissio, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

James Diamond, Former Dean, Delaware Valley University

Mike Diven, Former Representative, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Jennifer Eckinger, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Winery Association

Jim Ferlo, Former State Senator; President, Pittsburgh-Cuba Partnership

Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, Allegheny County

Kurt Fuchs, Government Affairs Officer, MidAtlantic Farm Credit

Vince Gasteb, VP of Government AffairsAllegheny County Airport Authority

Jack Gombach, Manager of Public Policy Outreach, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors

Chris Heck, President, Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce

Jay Howes, Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Association of Dairy Cooperatives

Robert Hurley, Director, Allegheny County Department of Economic Development

Dave McElhaney, Board Member, National Institute for Animal Agriculture

Mathew Meals, AgChoice Farm Credit

Tom Mehaffie, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

John Nichols, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs, The Pennsylvania State University

Donna Oberlander, GOP Caucus Secretary, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau

Guy Reschenthaler, Pennsylvania Senate

Mike Pries, County Commissioner, Dauphin County

Greg Rothman, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Joe Scarnati, President Pro Tempore, Pennsylvania Senate

Lisa Valenti, Pittsburgh-Cuba Partnership

Elder Vogel, Pennsylvania Senate

Judy Wojanis, Former CEO, Wojanis Hydraulics

Dennis Wolff, Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Western Pennsylvania leaders explore potential in Cuba

In the streets of Havana, alongside exquisite architecture, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald saw ways Pittsburgh could help. Crumbling buildings, peeling paint and sagging infrastructure showed decades of neglect. 

WITF: Pennsylvania and Cuba start talking about boxing, baseball exchange  

In the past six months, it's become easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, as the Obama administration eased restrictions. Now, Pennsylvania sees an opening as well. In the 1970's, it was known as ping pong diplomacy with China. Teams would play matches in both the U.S. and China, and the effort is credited with helping thaw relations. 

Politics PA: Doyle to visit Cuba

Congressman Mike Doyle, of PA’s 14th District, has announced that he will be traveling to Cuba this week to explore potential partnerships between Cuba and Southwestern Pennsylvania. 




The Patriot-News: Pa. Farmers Need a Fair Shake in Cuba

Long before the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic ties in 2015, there was Pennsylvania. For decades, Pennsylvania and Cuba had cultivated a robust connection built on trade and cultural exchange.

Reading Eagle: Pennsylvania State Senator Wants U.S. to Open up to Cuba for Trade

The Engage Cuba Coalition, an advocacy group working to open trade and travel between the U.S. and Cuba, says the longtime embargo on Cuba is hurting Pennsylvania farmers and businesses. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania Businesses Join Effort to Loosen Cuba trade Restrictions

State organizations represent an important part of the strategy, and Pennsylvania is now the 18th state council of Engage Cuba.

The Morning Call: PA farmers stand to gain as U.S. expands trade with Cuba

According to news reports after the 2004 trade trip, Pennsylvania was the first Northeastern state to sign an agricultural trade agreement with Cuba since the trade embargo was enacted 50 years ago. Now, with United States policy towards Cuba in a state of change, Pennsylvania farmers could see more exports to the island nation.

U.S. Senate: Statement in support of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act from Sen. Bob Casey

On May 10, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his cosponsorship of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, supporting unrestricted travel from the United States to Cuba.



  Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)   Cosponsor of  Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Cosponsor of Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act

  Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA-5)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Export Act

Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA-5)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Export Act


Tennessee Farm Bureau

Kent Adams, President
Caterpillar Financial

Marcela Gomez, President
Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce

Bradley Jackson, President
Tennessee Manufacturers Association

Buddy Teaster, President and CEO
Soles for Souls

Catherine Glover, President
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Joshua Smith, Owner
Standard Club of Nashville

Kealie Williams, Vice President
Hands on Nashville

Kent Merritt, President
Thunder Road Distillery

Dr. Manny Sethi, Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Stacy Widelitz, Board of Directors
Nashville Opera 
Past President of the Nashville Film Festival

Darek Bell, Owner
Corsair Distillery and Bell Construction

David Williams II, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs, Athletics Director
Vanderbilt University

Geoff MacDonald, Women’s Tennis Coach
Vanderbilt University

Jessica Bookstaff Doppelt, Founder & CEO
Pigeon Forge Tourism

Lisa Janke, Founder and President
Short Bark Industries

Louis Buck, Development Specialist
Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Tom Negri, former officer and board member
Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association

José Angel Rodríguez Fernández
Emerging Markets Development and Strategy

Tennessee and Cuba in the News

Press Release: Engage Cuba Launches Tennessee State Council


Fox 17 Nashville/ Washington Times/ Chattanooga Times Free Press: Tennessee council joins effort to end U.S.-Cuba trade embargo

Engage Cuba president James Williams said the group plans to form similar councils in Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas, all of which he considers "natural markets to export to Cuba." 

WUTC: Something to Cluck About: Tennessee's poultry exports to Cuba

Adelina Bryant: But in general, Tennessee agribusiness is only exporting $1.3 million in goods to Cuba, which is really low when you compare it to its neighbor, who doesn’t have an embargo on it.  Tennessee is selling $117 million of agribusiness to the Dominican Republic.

Op-ed: Tennessean: Lifting embargo against Cuba benefits Tennessee 

by Catherine Glover

President of Tennessee's Chamber of Commerce & Industry and an Engage Cuba Tennessee State Council Member, Catherine Glover writes an opinion piece, explaining the opportunities Tennessee and the United States are missing with the embargo.

Chattanooga Times Free Press: This Alabama company is first U.S. firm to manufacture in Cuba in more than 50 years

Clemmons and Berenthal aren't the first to spot a market for agricultural industry in Cuba. The Engage Cuba Tennessee State Council released a report earlier this year stating the Volunteer State has the potential to mirror agribusiness exports to the Dominican Republic, a roughly $117 million enterprise.

University of Tennessee Knoxville: Cuba trip was eye-opening experience for UT group

The Cold War was already relegated to history by the time even the oldest students on a recent UT study abroad trip were born. Even so, the strain on US­–Cuba relations for the past few decades has stuck around as a reminder of those darker times. Now, thanks to a thawing diplomatic climate, those students got the chance to experience Cuba—its people, its places, and its culture—in a way that would have been but a dream to their parents or grandparents.

The Tennessean: Tennesseans stand to benefit from trade with Cuba 

A recent poll released by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank that "promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs," showed that a strong majority of Americans in four states, including Tennessee, favors lifting the embargo (58 percent) and removing travel restrictions (67 percent).

Tennessee's Champions

  Representative Steve Cohen (R-TN-9)   Cosponsor of  H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017

Representative Steve Cohen (R-TN-9)

Cosponsor of H.R. 351 Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017

Texas State Council















    jenifer Sarver, Principal
    Sarver Strategies







Dean Corgey, Commissioner
Port of Houston Authority

    Chris Wallace, President
    Texas Association of Business

    Aimee Sanborn, Senior Associate, Director  
    of Sustainability
    Merriman Anderson/Architects, Inc.

   Jerry Merriman, President
    Merriman Anderson/Architects, Inc.

   Michael Skalicky, Treasurer
   Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group


Jagdip S Ahluwalia, Founding Secretary/Executive Director
Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston

Carlton Anderson, CEO and Co-Founder
Mercurio Biotec

Tony Bennett, President/CEO
Texas Association of Manufacturers

Daniel Berglund
Texas Rice Farmer

Ric Bonnell, MD, Director of Global Health
Dell Children's Medical Center

Theldon R. Branch, III, Commissioner
Port of Houston Authority

John Sibley Butler, The J. Marion West Chair in Constructive Capitalism
The University of Texas at Austin

Herb Butrum, Asst. Vice President, Government Relations
Baylor College of Medicine


J Allen Carnes, Farmer
Carnes Farms, Inc.

Felix Chevalier, Partner
The Chevalier Law Firm, PLLC

Brian Craig, PhD, PE, CPE, Professor and Chair, Department of Industrial Engineering; Director, Mariner, Safety Research Initiative
Lamar University

Randy Cubriel, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Law Office of Randy Cubriel

Dr. Bill Cunningham, James L. Bayless Chair for Free Enterprise
The University of Texas

Erika de la Garza, Program Director, Latin America Initiative
Rice University’s Baker Institute

Lex Denherder, Vice President Government and Industry Affairs
Universal Weather and Aviation

Jason Roth Fuller, Government Affairs Consultant

The Honorable Antonio Garza, U.S. Ambassador (Ret.), Counsel
White & Case, Mexico City

Keith Gray, Director
Riviana Foods

Bill Hammond, CEO
Bill Hammond & Associates 



    Josh Bryan, Operations Manager
    Braeden Engineering

    Steve Van, President & CEO
    Prism Hotels & Resorts

    Robert Brignac, PE, Director of    
    Braeden Engineering

Houston Chronicle: Texas will benefit from better U.S.-Cuba relations

by James Williams

It's time for Congress to end 50 years of failed policy - policy that has failed Texas and failed Cuba. The U.S. travel and trade embargo on Cuba infringes on the rights of Texans and continues to stifle economic mobility for Cubans.

Texas Tribune: Starbucks in Havana? Close, But No Cigar

Texas business groups are doing their best to win the hearts and minds of anti-Castro holdouts. In June, Engage Cuba — a Washington-based non-profit formed to lobby Congress to end the embargo — announced the creation of a Texas team made up of educators and business and civic leaders.

Houston Chronicle: Texas Leaders Join Coalition to Lift Cuba EMBARGO

The politicians, business leaders and advocates joined the new Texas State Council for Engage Cuba, a national organization that lobbies from Washington, D.C. to end the U.S. travel ban and trade embargo with Cuba. 

Austin Business Chronicle: Texas coalition wants to boost trade with Cuba

The 43-member coalition, dubbed Engage Cuba, includes the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Association of Manufacturers, a host of academics and economists, Google's head of external affairs for the Southwestern United States, Dell Inc. and Dell Children's Medical Association.

Texas Tribune: Texans Enlisting with Pro-Cuba Trade Group

Engage Cuba, a nonprofit outfit founded last year, said Thursday that more than three dozen members have joined its Texas council, which will spearhead a regional effort to break the post-Cold War embargo that it says has shackled Americans and Cubans alike.

Austin Business Journal: Engage Cuba Wants to Boost Texas' Trade with Cuba

A new statewide business group is pressuring the federal government to loosen travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. Over the past two years, the Obama administration has taken steps to warm relations between the U.S. and Cuba but trade is not yet freely flowing between the two nations.

WBAP: Texas Group Tries to Build Relations with Cuba

A group of Texans will head to Cuba in late June to try to increase trade with the island. A group from the Fort Worth Sister Cities Program went to Cuba earlier this year. 

Houston Chronicle: Cuba and the U.S. need to End Entrenched Positions that No Longer Make Sense. 

Cuban leaders didn't like some of the things President Barack Obama said and did during his historic visit to Havana in March. They have taken a few verbal potshots at him since then, but that doesn't appear to have slowed the process of normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations the long-time enemies began in December 2014.

KUT: For Texans, Building Business Ties With Cuba Isn't a Sprint – It's a Decades-Long Marathon

Cuba’s ambassador to the United States is in Texas this week to meet with business owners who want to sell to Cuba. In February the state Department of Agriculture went on an official trade mission to the island, and another group of Texans is headed there for similar reasons later this year. 

Fox News Latino: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott heads delegation to Cuba, explores $57M trade deal 

 “This is symbolically important,” the Statesman quoted James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a recently formed nonprofit advocacy group lobbying Congress to end travel and trade restrictions with Cuba, as saying. 

Houston Chronicle: Texas Ready to Feed Cuba's Tourists

Cuba's once illustrious riviera may be a bit dilapidated after more than a half century of communist rule and the battering of U.S. trade sanctions. But tourists from Canada and Europe are loving it, visiting in record numbers before the island is overrun by Americans and its era of being quaint and inexpensive ends. 

Governor Abbott's business development mission to Cuba

“This is symbolically important,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a recently formed nonprofit advocacy group lobbying Congress to end travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. 

Houston Chronicles: Texas could benefit from Houston-to-Cuba air service

Regular air travel between the U.S. and Cuba likely will have positive consequences for Houston, airline and business leaders said Thursday.

Houston Public Media: Texas Eyes Expanded Export Ties With Cuba

“If you think about the process of doing deals, the first part is opening the door, establish a relationship at the highest level in the state of Texas, that Texas businesses will have the opportunity to tap into as they expand their businesses going forward,” Abbott said.   

KXAN: Abbott on Cuba: laying foundation despite trade embargo 

“Joe Texan at home need to understand that we are trying to find even more ways to get more and better paying jobs right here in the state of Texas,” said Gov. Abbott.  

The Houston Chronicle: Gov. Abbott in Cuba refuses to back end of U.S. trade embargo 

"My efforts are not contingent on things changing. My efforts are premised on the way things are today," Abbott said. "I don't have the ability to influence or to dictate the outcome of the embargo." 

The Dallas Morning News: Gov. Abbott: Abundance of economic opportunities in Cuba

“One of my goals was to work with Cuban leaders and Cuban businesses and Cuban business owners to find ways that Texas can capitalize on the growing economic opportunity,” Abbott said in a press conference call with reporters on Wednesday, the final day of his visit.

Dallas Morning News: Texas Business Leaders Push to Open Cuba for More Trade and Travel

The national group Engage Cuba announced on Thursday that it was launching a Texas state council -- made up of more than 40 business leaders and officials so far -- who will push for Congress to lift remaining trade and travel bans.

Dallas Morning News: Texas Sees Business Potential in Trade with Cuba

In true cowboy spirit, many Texans see Cuba as a new frontier. Businesses in the state stand to generate jobs and millions of dollars in trade with Cuba as the United States takes steps to open relations with the communist country for the first time since 1961.

Reuters: Texas governor seeks business opportunities in Cuba

Only $6.3 million of the 2014 U.S. exports to Cuba left through Houston ports, less than from any of the nine southern states accounting for the bulk of U.S.-Cuba trade, according to a pool report on the governor's website from a Texas-based reporter traveling with the governor. 

The Texas Tribune: Texas Ag Industry Seeks Swifter Action on Cuban Thaw

Texans in the agriculture industry are urging state lawmakers to do everything in their power to pressure Congress to lift a 55-year-old trade embargo with Cuba — a move they say could dramatically bolster the fortunes of struggling wheat, rice and corn growers, cattle raisers and other industries that profited from trade with the country long ago. 

Houston Chronicle: Abbott's trip to Cuba good for Texas business  

Gov. Greg Abbott arrives in Cuba on Monday for a three-day trade mission designed to build business ties with the Communist nation.

The Dallas Morning News: Editorial: Abbott’s Cuba trip challenges conservatives to rethink embargo 

Imagine the transformative effect if thousands of American tourists and businesspeople, loaded with dollars, began flooding into Cuba and U.S. products suddenly became widely available.

Texas Tribune: Abbott's Trip Shows New Politics of U.S.-Cuba Relations 

"With a new era of eased trade and travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba — and as the 12th largest economy in the world — Texas has an opportunity to capitalize and expand its economic footprint at home and abroad,” Abbott said.

My Statesman: Gov. Greg Abbott to lead Texas trade delegation to Cuba 

It may not be Nixon’s trip to China, but Gov. Greg Abbott will lead a trade mission to Cuba next week. It will be Abbott’s second foreign trade trip — he visited Mexico in September — and the second trip to Cuba by a governor since President Barack Obama initiated a thaw in relations with Cuba and opened up embassy relations in August.

The Texas Tribune: Abbott Leading State Trip to Cuba Next Week 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he will lead a state delegation to Cuba next week, just less than a year after President Barack Obama resumed relations with the communist country. 

The Dallas Morning News: Gov. Greg Abbott heading to Cuba 

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced that he will lead a delegation to Havana, Cuba next week to talk travel, trade and exports. Texans have courted Cuba for years. 

The Texas Tribune: Abbott: Texas ready to deal if Cuba embargo lifted

During a separate meeting Tuesday with Alexis Trujillo Morejón, Cuba's deputy minster of tourism, Abbott said Texas was interested in expanding travel and tourism with Cuba, according to the report. 

CBS Local: Abbott Wants More Cuban Trade 

Abbott left Havana without announcing new partnerships but suggested some are in the works. He also defended making a relationship-building trip to Cuba after having previously vowed to limit business travel to when there is a deal to make, unlike his globe-trotting predecessor, Rick Perry.

Jacksonville Progress: Businesses see green in prospects for Cuban trade

Texas could see a $43 million boost in business each year if the United States lifts trade restrictions with Cuba, according to one estimate. And that's just in agriculture.

My Statesman: Greg Abbott: Cuba dedicated to expanding private sector 

The governor said he was “impressed with a sense of entrepreneurial spirit, a longing for free enterprise” among Cubans. Abbott said in his conversations with everyday Cubans, “there is a growing sense of freedom and free enterprise here.”

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