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Mississippi governor leading trade delegation to Israel

Jackson, MS - Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is traveling to Israel for a week with a delegation of state economic development employees and private business executives.

"It's largest delegation that we've ever taken," Bryant said this week before a pre-election Republican rally in Jackson.

Bryant, a Republican who won a second term Tuesday, was leaving Saturday and is scheduled to speak Monday at a defense conference in Tel Aviv. He said he will discuss Mississippi's role in researching and building unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

"We have Stark Aerospace in Columbus, which helps assemble UAV's," Bryant said. "And, they're very interested in the Center of Excellence at Mississippi State."

The Federal Aviation earlier this year chose Mississippi State University to run as a National Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, to coordinate research and development.

The governor's spokesman, Knox Graham, said Bryant is also scheduled to meet during the week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Joining Bryant on the trip to Israel are his wife, Deborah; Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann; and Mississippi Development Authority director Glenn McCullough and two employees of his agency's trade division.

Representatives of the Mississippi State Port Authority and the State Workforce Investment Board are also going, as are Mississippi Manufacturers Association president and CEO Jay Moon and executives from Airbus Helicopters, which has a plant in Columbus, and Huntington Ingalls Industries, which has a Pascagoula shipyard that is one of Mississippi's largest private employers.

Graham said the expenses for the governor and Deborah Bryant are not being paid by the state, and no legislators are going on the trip.

The expenses for MDA employees are being paid by state and federal money, said agency spokeswoman Marlo Dorsey. Businesses are paying their own expenses.

In November 2014, Bryant traveled to Israel and spoke at a homeland security conference.

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