Gov. Scott to lead Florida trade mission to Spain
By Scott Blake
State officials are planning a trade mission to Spain, and Greater Miami stands to be a chief beneficiary.
Gov. Rick Scott has asked Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development agency, to plan for the trip in the first half of this year, with a contingent representing South Florida on the trade mission. The governor intends to head the mission himself.
The agency's Coral Gables office is charged with overseeing the arrangements.
"The governor is interested in doing a mission to Spain and has asked us to do the exploratory work," said Manny Mencia, Enterprise Florida's senior vice president of international business development, based in Coral Gables.
The state has done trade missions to Spain before, but the focus of this trip would be to draw more Spanish business and investment here, especially to South Florida.
Enterprise Florida already maintains an office in Madrid.
The proposed trip would not just be about increasing trade, such as exports and imports with Spain, but to continue to raise the level of Spanish investment in the Sunshine State at a time Florida needs more jobs.
"It's a dynamic market for investment," Mr. Mencia said.
Already, an estimated 300 or more businesses based in Spain have operations in South Florida. Those businesses represent a wide range of Spanish industry, including banking, he said.
"The priority [for Spanish businesses in Florida] has always been South Florida," Mr. Mencia added.
While the trip is not yet finalized, he said, the governor wants it to be a "strong consideration" in the state's economic development efforts this year.
The contingent on the mission is likely to include officials and business leaders from Greater Miami. "I'm sure our commercial partners will be involved," Mr. Mencia said.
Spain has become one of Florida's top foreign investors, especially in the Miami area, he said.
Another top investor — Brazil — was the destination of a state trade mission in October. On that trip, Gov. Scott was joined by nearly 190 Florida government and business representatives, with about 90 of them from South Florida, Mr. Mencia included.
Enterprise Florida has organized about 25 "Team Florida" trade missions with the goal of fostering growth of Florida's economy from outside the country.
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