Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says he’s skipping trip to Japan

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke has canceled a scheduled trip to Japan, saying he has too much on his plate at home.

“My time is best spent here in the city working,” Winnecke said Wednesday.

The mayor was to leave Thursday and join an Indiana delegation led by Gov. Mike Pence on a nine-day economic development trip funded by donations to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Winnecke said ongoing discussions regarding Evansville’s Downtown convention hotel project are the main reason he’s staying home. A City Council vote on public financing for the development is scheduled Monday.

In Winnecke’s absence, Greg Wathen, president of the Southwest Indiana Economic Development Coalition, will be the de facto leader of the local delegation joining Pence on the trip.

Wathen said Winnecke told him Tuesday of his decision to remain in Evansville.

“He felt bad about it … He didn’t make the decision lightly, but given everything, it was probably the right decision,” Wathen said.

Others from the region on the trip include Old National Bank Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Knight, Gibson County Economic Corp. President Todd Mosby and Mark Sebree, director of economic development for Vectren Corp.

Wathen said the group will arrive about 5:30 p.m. Friday, Japan time. Ceremonial gifts will be exchanged on Saturday, and the remainder of the trip will consist mostly of business conferences.

“It’s expensive to go, so you want to squeeze in as many meetings as you can,” Wathen said.

Winnecke said he notified state officials of his reasons for passing on the trip, and “they understood.”

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