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Tampa Bay Export Alliance Chile Mission Generates $9 Million in Anticipated Export Sales; Creates Major Opportunities for Tampa Bay Business and Tourism
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – December 8, 2014 – Leaders of the Tampa Bay Export Alliance, a partnership of Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, shared the outcomes of last week’s joint trade mission to Chile, which took place December 1 – 5.
Commissioner Karen Seel, Chair of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Commissioner Lesley “Les” Miller, Jr. of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, led a delegation of approximately 40 Tampa Bay business leaders with the goal of developing commercial relationships and increasing exports to Chile. The group spent three full days in Santiago to promote international business opportunities between Chile and the Tampa Bay region.
At a media briefing held this morning in Tampa, members of the delegation shared the following highlights and early results from the trip:
The 14 companies participating on the trip conducted over 100 total meetings with prospective customers – and several of them signed deals and sold product while on the trip. At least one company is still in Chile today, having had a request for additional meetings from prospects met just last week.
The companies represented diverse local industries including custom manufacturing, marine supplies, solar lighting, power industry services, wastewater screening, custom auto transmissions, heavy machinery, agricultural equipment, custom stonework and emergency oxygen equipment.
While the mission results are still being tallied, participating companies have reported more than 30 solid sales leads and an estimated $9 million in expected export sales.
Visit Tampa Bay and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater representatives met with nearly 150 tour operators and travel agents to delegate companies to lay the groundwork for in-bound familiarization tours aimed at increasing tourism from Chile to Tampa Bay.
Mayor Kriseman and Mayor Buckhorn met with Santiago Mayor Carolina Toha and signed a Cooperation Agreement pledging support for increased trade, education, and cultural activities between the three cities.
The delegation met with the Chilean Fruit Exporters’ Association (ASOEX) to explore opportunities for shipping Chilean fruit through Port Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay business and government leaders met with the American Chamber of Commerce of Chile and CORFO, the Chilean government’s economic development agency, to learn more about Chile’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and explore opportunities for innovative collaborations.
“This was what will be the first of many opportunities for our local Tampa Bay companies to make the connections that allow them to sell their products and services globally, expand their operations and create new jobs,” said Commissioner Seel. “As we support these companies and share the story of our region, we’re also looking forward to welcoming our Chilean neighbors to the South to our dynamic community and the best beaches in the world.”
“Tampa Bay is an innovative, creative and competitive community anchored by the thriving cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa,” said Mayor Kriseman. “We have the business climate, the talent and the local companies necessary to expand our region’s influence globally. Tampa Bay is the best place in the nation for growing companies looking to reach international markets.”
“The trade mission to Chile represents a significant opportunity for Hillsborough County businesses to connect and strengthen international trade relationships,” said Commissioner Miller. “It is important that we continue to market our port authority and other valuable assets to increase trade opportunities in the Tampa Bay region.”
“For the first time, Tampa Bay is going out to tell our story to the rest of the world as a team,” said Mayor Buckhorn. “We will go anywhere, anytime to talk about Tampa and this region. This mission will pay dividends for us for a long time.”
Leaders from Port Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport and Visit Tampa Bay shared their perspectives on the impact the mission will have on tourism and shipping to the region. Executives from several companies participating on the trip, including Custom Manufacturing & Engineering, Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Monster Transmission and Performance, and Pro-Tech Coatings talked about their mission experience and the value the arranged business meetings delivered for their companies.
“We thought we would take Santiago by storm, and we sure did,” said Mike Meidel, Pinellas County Economic Development Director. “The Tampa Bay Export Alliance’s first trade mission has created tremendous opportunity for the companies and organizations that participated. We’re going to continue to work with Chile, and we look forward to future trade missions with our Tampa Bay partners.”
“To say this trip was productive would be an understatement,” said Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. “Every participant benefited. This mission also gave us the opportunity to build more business travel between Tampa Bay and Chile with Copa Airlines. Missions like this one help us spread the word about our community on an international level, and is one way we help Copa be successful and increase the frequency of their flights to and from Tampa International Airport.”
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Visit St. Pete Clearwater, and the Tampa Bay Partnership participated in the mission as well.
Last week’s mission to Chile was the latest in a series of significant trips Tampa Bay government and business leaders have taken to Latin America to strengthen commercial opportunities with the region. In February and October of this year, delegates with the Tampa Bay Export Alliance traveled to Panama to build relationships and focus on bilateral trade.
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA) is a partnership between Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, formed in 2014 to grow jobs and capital investment by increasing the international export of products and services within the bi-county area. The TBEA conducts joint export activities, such as seminars, trade events and trade missions, and supports the export-related growth initiatives of regional economic partners, including Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay.
Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) works with existing businesses to encourage expansion and seeks to attract new companies with high-wage careers to our community. Through investment tools, business classes, professional consulting services, trade missions to open new markets, and strategic partnerships, PCED fosters a pro-business environment and promotes the Ideal Business Climate of Pinellas County, Florida.
The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation is the lead economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. The EDC works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention, and expansion of high-wage jobs and capital investment within targeted industry sectors. Locally, the EDC helps existing businesses access the tools and resources they need to succeed, now and in the future.