PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – December 7, 2015 – Leaders of the Tampa Bay Export Alliance, a cooperative effort of Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, today announced $4.1 million in projected sales as a result of the Trade Mission to Toronto, Canada from October 19-22, as well as foreign direct investment leads from Canadian operations looking to expand into the region.
The mission agenda included the specialized Gold Key program (customized one-on-one meetings arranged by the U.S. Commercial Service) for nine pre-qualified Tampa Bay companies, as well as industry site visits, informational briefings, investment meetings, and business roundtables. Seventy business and community leaders joined the Tampa Bay delegation for the trip.
“Our goal is to increase exports for our local companies,” explained Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development. “These sales projections are a good start, and we’ll continue to track results from our companies to measure our progress, evaluate the effectiveness of our preparations and set expectations for future initiatives.”
During the trip, the TBEA team also made time for foreign direct investment presentations to Canadian companies considering expanding into the Tampa Bay Region. This initial outreach to these investors has already yielded a site tour with a company looking to establish operations in the area.
“As Tampa Bay’s international reputation as a business friendly, talent-rich market with an exceptional quality of life grows, we are seeing more interest from Canadian companies exploring investment and expansion in the region,” said J.P. DuBuque, President & CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. “We look forward to strengthening the relationships we established in Toronto and closing more deals from the leads generated on the trip.”
Canada is the number one export market for Tampa Bay goods and services and one of the region’s most strategic partners for trade, investment, and tourism. The Tampa Bay metro area currently trades almost $2 billion with Canada annually and Canadian companies including TD Bank, CAE, and Air Canada employ over 2,200 residents in the region.
“The event provided us with a new market share in Canada and the ability to network and obtain new opportunities in the international market,” said Robert Ramirez, CEO of Aero Supply USA, a Clearwater manufacturer specializing in aircraft parts and electronic components, who participated in the Gold Key Program in Canada.
“We had five significant meetings in Toronto that resulted in excellent sales leads for our business,” said Raj Emandi, president of Granex, a Hillsborough County-based manufacturer and exporter of granite slabs. “In addition, we connected with several quarries and identified new suppliers from which we can source materials. It was a very productive trip for us, and I look forward to participating in more TBEA missions in the future.”
In addition to the matchmaker and foreign direct investment meetings, the mission included a concurrent business development agenda featuring tourism, film & digital media and protocol meetings.
Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn led the delegation with the goal of developing commercial relationships and increasing exports to Canada. Tampa International Airport, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Visit Tampa Bay, Film Tampa Bay and over thirty private sector companies participated in the mission.
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance will next lead an Export Sales Mission to Costa Rica from April 12 – 15, 2016. The U.S. accounts for 40% of Costa Rica’s total imports, and Costa Rica is ranked as the 6th largest trading partner for Florida. Port Tampa Bay has direct container shipping connections to Costa Rica provided by Seatrade/Altamar Shipping. Explore the possibilities at a free “Doing Business in Costa Rica” workshop on January 13th in Pinellas County or January 14th in Hillsborough County. To learn more about the mission or to register for a workshop, please visit
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA) is a cooperative effort 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 designated economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. A public-private partnership, 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. Working with C-level executives, site selection consultants, commercial real estate professionals and other influential decision makers, the EDC provides customized, confidential relocation services to domestic and international companies interested in growing within Hillsborough County. Locally, the EDC helps existing businesses access the tools and resources they need to succeed, now and in the future.