Senator Franken heads to Cuba with mind on Minnesota's economy


Cuba is alive with Minnesotans these days, with Senator Al Franken the latest to head to the island nation on a diplomatic trip.

Franken and three fellow Democrats in the U.S Senate will meet with Cuban officials and business owners this weekend to discuss ways in which America can build relations with its Caribbean neighbor, according to a news release.

This comes after the Obama administration's recent move to thaw the frosty relationship between the two countries.

Franken's visit to Cuba follows that of his fellow Minnesota senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, who has been a vocal advocate of open trade with the country. She toured there in February and was apparently treated as something of a "mini-celebrity."

More recently, the Minnesota Orchestra became the first American musical ensemble to visit the country in nearly two decades. They played two sold-out concerts before heading back home last weekend.

Franken will be joined by other high-profile lawmakers to further explore trade and tourism opportunities between Cuba and the United States, with the hope that Minnesota's economy might benefit from the new relationship.

"Expanding trade opportunities with Cuba could be of enormous benefit to many Minnesota industries, including our medical technology industry, agricultural producers, and our energy sector," Franken said. "I look forward to exploring ways that we can build relations with Cuba."

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Why are Minnesota officials heading to Cuba?

Cuba has 11 million residents – all of which are potential customers for Minnesota businesses.