2016 International Town Hall draws praise for unique regional collaboration

May 16, 2016

The speakers who took the stage at the Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA)’s third International Town Hall this month offered one clear and consistent message: what we’re doing is working. The TBEA, a regional collaboration of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and Pinellas County Economic Development and their trade and tourism partners, is driving international business on both sides of the bay.

The morning started off with a keynote presentation from global manufacturing giant Jabil on its innovative supply chain management system. Mudit Bajaj, Vice President of Advanced Analytics Solutions, and Ross Valentine, Director of Solution Innovation, highlighted how the system pinpoints areas of concern or risk before they escalate into problems.

Edelweiss Air’s Head of Corporate Development, Dr. Michael Trestl, updated the audience on the airline’s successes in Tampa Bay. With just over four years in the market, the airline’s direct flights to Zurich from Tampa International Airport have exceeded the company’s expectations. Edelweiss started with one direct flight to Zurich, and now there are four flights weekly. More than 100,000 passengers have arrived in Tampa via Edelweiss Air, and while the original expectation of business travelers originating out of TPA hovered around 10 to 12 percent, the actual number is somewhere between 20 and 25 percent.

“The partnership we have with Tampa International is unprecedented in any other market that we serve,” said Trestl to the 300 attendees at International Town Hall. “The support we get here is unlike anywhere else on the planet… it is out of this world.”

The importance and impact of regional collaboration was the feature of the last panel, Tampa Bay on the Global Stage, which featured Paul Anderson, President & CEO of Port Tampa Bay; Santiago Corrada, President & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay; David Downing, Executive Director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater; J.P. DuBuque, Interim President & CEO of Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation; Chris Minner, Vice President of Marketing of Tampa International Airport; and Mike Meidel, Directory of Pinellas County Economic Development.

The “International A-Team” updated attendees on the Tampa Bay Export Alliance’s recent missions to Canada and Costa Rica and the expansions underway at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa International Airport. The interactive panel, moderated by the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s editor-in-chief Alexis Muellner, featured spirited conversation and audience participation on a variety of topics including the importance of exporting and Tampa Bay’s increasingly prominent role on the global stage.

“The Tampa Bay Export Alliance model is working,” DuBuque told the crowd. “The effort is increasing export business for local companies and strengthening our relationships with top trading partner countries.”

For more information on Tampa Bay Export Alliance, a cooperative effort of Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and Pinellas County Economic Development, please visit tampabayexportalliance.com.