Clearwater, Florida – October 8, 2014 – The Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA), a partnership of Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, returned today from a three day Enterprise Florida Trade Mission to Panama.
Regional leaders continued their support of Copa Airline’s four-times-weekly non-stop flights from Tampa Bay to Panama City, and joined a 200 person delegation being lead by Gray Swoope, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.
On Tuesday, October 7, Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development, Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport and Paul Anderson, President and CEO of Port Tampa Bay hosted the U.S. Ambassador to Panama’s Welcome Reception, a gathering of Florida’s delegation and top business executives from the region.
This is the second significant trip this year that the Tampa Bay region has undertaken to Panama with the goal of increasing exports to the region. In February 2014, a delegation of business leaders and elected officials visited the country to build relationships and focus on bilateral trade in Latin America.
“Our goal is twofold,” explained Mike Meidel, “We want to share the capabilities of local manufacturers and service providers to the Panamanian market, as well as promote the advantages of a Tampa Bay location to foreign direct investors hoping to expand into U.S. markets.”
“Having our Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay partners with us is critical to our mission of expanding exports and investment,” shared Rick Homans. “Our region is a seamless and efficient marketplace, with all of the infrastructure necessary to move products globally at the speed of business.”
“Together, we are strengthening the business ties between Tampa Bay and Panama and supporting Copa’s successful nonstop flights between Tampa International Airport and Panama. The Airport is looking forward to meetings with Copa and our peers at Tocumen International Airport,” said Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport.
“Panama is not only the key logistics hub for Latin America, but with the expanded Panama Canal will expand our access to the world. The upgrade of our container terminal with the acquisition of two new post-Panamax cranes will position us for success,” Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay president and CEO, said.
Carlos Licona, President of Atlantic Supply, in Largo, Florida, joined the mission, and took advantage of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key Matching Services which offer customized market and industry briefings and appointments with prospective trade partners in key industry sectors.
“The convenience of the Gold Key Services allowed me to make the best use of the time I was in Panama to meet the business partners that will be most advantageous to expanding my sales in Latin America,” Licona shared.
Panama is a strategic hub for commerce and security in the Americas. The economy has seen high growth due to successful transportation facilities and infrastructure development, and banking and services account for 80 percent of jobs. Exports from Florida accounted for more than $2 billion in 2013. The Trade Promotion Agreement between the U.S. and Panama will continue to offer U.S. -made goods a competitive advantage.
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance’s next trade mission is planned for Santiago, Chili, December 1-5, 2014. Featuring the United States Commercial Service Gold Key Program, this opportunity is focused on local exporters finding new markets to increase their sales and profits. Delegate positions are still open, but the deadline for applications is October 15. Learn more at http://www.rsvpbook.com/tampabayexportalliance.