Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was in Texas today to meet with representatives from Austin's thriving music scene and look for ways to emulate that city's success north of the border.

Earlier today, Ford avoided reporters' questions about his relationship with Sandro Lisi, his friend and occasional driver who was arrested Wednesday on drug-related charges.

Shortly before departing on his trip, Ford told reporters he was surprised at news of the charges against Lisi, who he described as “a good guy.”

Ford also tried to shift the conversation about his relationship with Lisi to the purpose of his trip to Austin.

“I’m going down there to create jobs and stimulate our economy and do what I was elected to do,” he said.

'We have to sell our city and I'm a great salesman in the private sector and the public sector.' - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

“Tell people how great this city is; tell them that we have the venues, that we have the recording studios. Show them Toronto. We have to sell our city and I’m a great salesman in the private sector and the public sector.”

Austin media had been referring to Ford as “the controversial Canadian mayor” even before his arrival, but Coun. Gary Crawford, who is also on the Texas trip, said he wants to keep the conversation about business.

“I’m there to focus on music, the mayor is going there on music and I think everyone down there is going to be focusing on the importance of the music industry and how do we increase that in the city,” Crawford said.

Ford spent much of today meeting with officials at Austin's City Hall, before addressing city council in the evening. At the event, he was declared an honourary citizen of Austin and then presented the city's mayor with a black and white photograph of Toronto's City Hall.

On Friday, Ford will attend the first day of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, a two-weekend event in Austin's Zilker Park.