Florida Gov Scott To Lead October Mission To Brazil
By Robert Grattan
A delegation of Florida’s business leaders headed by Gov. Rick Scott is to make its way to Brazil to establish deeper trade ties between the regions.
The Oct. 23-27 excursion to São Paulo, including a trade exposition and networking events, aims to prepare the participating businesses for expansion into Brazilian markets, as well as to encourage Brazilians to invest in South Florida.
"Ultimately, what Governor Scott is hoping to get out of the trip is jobs," said Lane Wright, his press secretary.
Brazil is Florida’s largest international trading partner with $13.7 billion in trade between the regions in the past year alone.
"Brazil, in my opinion, is the most important market for our state," said Manuel Mencia, senior vice president at Enterprise Florida, a government partnership established to guide development of Florida’s economy. "It’s not only our largest trading partner and export market, but it’s considered by most economists as one of the big emerging markets of the world."
The five-day expedition to the South American nation is the centerpiece of a larger strategy that aggressively pursues international trade, Mr. Mencia said.
"Every year we do 30 to 40 trade programs worldwide," he said, including recently France and India.
Brazil’s strong economic growth and important upcoming events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics have made the market important for Florida.
Enterprise Florida has a program that helps businesses looking to market to Brazilians, as well as an international office in São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil.
Before committing to the international trip, companies were offered a free product evaluation by the US embassy, Mr. Mencia said. Businesses with products that would perform well were encouraged to go on the trip.
Preferred products include aviation technology, architecture and medical equipment, he listed.
"We’ve already sold two-thirds of the spots," he said. "I would say we probably have 20 to 25 companies registered and paid, and room for 12 more."
To help companies afford the trip — which costs $1,200 for the trade exposition and gold key package, and $700 for the delegate package — Mr. Mencia hopes to offer grants from the US Small Business Administration.
"If you’re new to the market or an infrequent exporter to Brazil," he said, "we’ll be able to offset the majority of the costs, which include a one-on-one meeting with potential clients for your products, as well as a fully furnished stand at the exhibition."
The grants make the venture an even better deal, Mr. Mencia said. "We estimate the value of this product at around $4,000."
Registration deadline is Sept. 7.
And with Governor Scott present, Mr. Mencia said, the convention should draw significant interest.
"When you have the senior-most leadership of the state, it seems to attract a much higher level of attention, and a higher level of companies," he said. "Having the governor with us will open doors."
The goal is to drive development in Florida through networking and exposure, Mr. Mencia said.
"Our hope is to… generate very significant business for these companies," he said, "and to be able to leverage investment into Florida."
Mr. Wright, the governor’s press secretary, agreed.
"We hope to bring economic leaders together to develop and create contacts, relationships and opportunities to grow businesses."
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