Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is on a business trip to Saudi Arabia with the US-Saudi Arabia Business Council (USSABC), the Minnesota Trade Organization and representatives from 16 Minnesota companies and organizations.

This is the second such Minnesota trade mission set up by the USSABC with the goal of building bi-lateral relationships between the state and Saudi Arabia. Ellison also attended the group's first trip in 2009. 

It’s also very different from Ellison’s trip to Saudi Arabia in 2008, when he went on a personal pilgrimage as a Muslim.

"The whole purpose of this thing is jobs, actually," said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert. "To try to bring business back here, create jobs over there, try to create jobs here for Minnesotans. That's what the trade mission is really about."

The trip, which runs from March 28 to April 1, is intended to help Minnesota companies build, maintain and grow relationships with the wealthy middle-eastern kingdom. The group has 29 participants from 16 organizations, including the Hormel Institute, Honeywell, the University of Minnesota and other private construction, architecture, communications and engineering companies.

According to tweets from Ellison, he also met with King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia.

Unlike his 2008 trip, which was funded by a Muslim nonprofit, Ellison is travelling at public expense.

Jauert said Ellison's trip is paid for by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs; the other companies and organizations are paying their own way.

Below is a complete list of which Minnesota companies and organizations are on the mission. Representatives from a California company, Global Augmentative Communication Innovators, are also traveling with the group.

Groups traveling to Saudi Arabia:

  •  Atmosphere Recovery, Eden Prairie
  •  ATS&R Inc., Golden Valley
  •  Clark Engineering, Minneapolis
  •  DECO Inc, Champlin
  •  Faegre & Benson LLP, Minneapolis
  •  Fastest Inc, Roseville
  •  Global Traffic Technologies, St. Paul
  •  Honeywell/Honeywell Turki Arabia
  •  Hormel Institute, Minneapolis
  •  Midwest Minority Supplier Development Council, Minneapolis
  •  Nilfisk Advance, Minneapolis
  •  Phygen Coating, Minneapolis
  •  Reliability Management Group, Minneapolis
  •  SaberPack, Lino Lakes
  •  Thor Construction, Minneapolis
  •  University of Minnesota