Generally, high net worth individuals in the business community are profit driven in their investment calculus. Investment decisions are based on certain factors – availability of markets, suitable work force, access to additional funds, crime rate and in some cases, climatic and infrastructure factors. Tampa Bay area meets most of the enumerated factors, if not all.
First, Tampa Bay benefits from a large and diverse consumer market. Foreign investors continue to successfully market and sell their goods and services to a wide variety of consumers and generate much needed profits in the area. Tampa Bay distinguishes itself since it has a large consumer market. This represents the U.S. general outlook, which has the highest consumers’ spending for goods and services compared to other countries.
Additionally, Tampa Bay area’s convenient geographic location constitutes an ideal platform. The region’s location in the Eastern Time zone enables its residents to easily connect with Latin American countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, among others, and reach customers throughout North and South America, as well as Europe during business hours. Thus, foreign investors can take advantage of the United States’ free trade agreements with many countries to develop their business activity. By having a U.S.-based business, foreign investors gain access to hundreds of millions of consumers to market U.S. high quality goods.
Similarly, the real estate sector continues to attract foreign nationals into the Tampa Bay area. Some have used specific visas such as E-1 as treaty trader, E-2 as treaty investor, and L-1 intra company transfer visa to invest in the area. On the other hand, most foreign investors have used EB-5 visas either as direct investor or regional center investors. The real estate sector in Tampa Bay area has benefited immensely from foreign cash in recent years and it shows an upward trend of foreign cash in-flow.
It has been easy for foreign investors to adjust to U.S. business practices because of the diversity of Tampa Bay population. For example, foreign investors from Latin American countries are prompted to come to Tampa Bay area because of the presence of the Hispanic culture and Spanish language spoken. They adapt faster to their new environment by connecting to the Hispanic and Caribbean communities to which they are familiar and can overcome culture shock and other challenges. These foreign investors in some cases, have targeted Hispanic consumers since they have a better knowledge about product and service offerings directed to these consumers.
Furthermore, the availability of human capital and the access to first class research facilities in Tampa Bay area, provide investment incentives for foreign investors to get involve in the manufacturing, retail, technology, real estate, construction, distribution, food service industry, among others. The region hosts institutions such as University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, and many other institutions and colleges.
The presence of major brands in Tampa Bay area allows the region to remain attractive to foreign investors. Foreign investors who desire to buy or invest in a business benefit from the reputation of U.S. based brand through franchising as many franchisors have headquarters in the area. Some foreign investors have opted for the franchise industry because the business is more likely to be a successful investment. Moreover, foreign investors who are not business-oriented or who do not have the experience to operate a new business benefit from the training and support system provided by the franchise industry, irrespective of the business visa category.
Similarly, the low corporate tax and absence of state income tax in Florida constitute additional incentives for foreign nationals to continue to invest in Tampa Bay area. Real estate business investments will remain appealing to foreign investors in the region, especially in light of the new tax reform, which drops corporate tax rates.
In sum, Tampa Bay area will continue to grow with foreign immigrant investment funds, not just for its diverse work force, low crime rate, and access to research facilities, but for its beautiful year-round weather.
Yohan A. Zingile, JD, is Business Clients Relationship Officer at Center for U.S. Immigration Services. He assists investor and business clients in U.S. operation set ups, general business development, immigration documentation, and oversees development of international programs. He obtained his JD degree from the University of Arizona.
For more information about investors or business visas, contact the Center for U.S. Immigration Services at 813.298.7222 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.