The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Gov. Nathan Deal recently returned from what the newspaper called a “clandestine” economic development trip to the United Kingdom.
Mr. Deal’s office confirmed that he met with Pinewood Studios, the British film studio that recently opened a huge production facility near Peachtree City. Mr. Deal told the AJC that he was interested in setting up a film production academy adjacent to the studios and was discussing this prospect with the company.
A spokesman for the governor wouldn’t comment on speculation about London meetings with other high-level prospects. The AJC noted that Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury auto maker based in the U.K. but owned by India’s Tata Group, last fall was said to have been scouting locations in the Southeast U.S. for a manufacturing plant. Mr. Deal’s trip came soon after the recent announcement that German auto giant Mercedes-Benz would put its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta.
It also comes on the heels of two major British announcements. Payment processor WorldPay said recently it would consolidate its U.S. operations in the city, while Virgin Atlantic opened new air routes between London and Atlanta.
The governor hasn’t been shy about taking and promoting European economic development trips in the past. The furtive nature of this excursion, as the AJC indicated, could hint that he is honed in on a high-level prospect that he doesn’t want other states to get their hands on.