Buckhorn: Toronto trade mission results in ‘real deals’

October 23, 2015

Jerome R. Stockfisch, Tampa Tribune
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A trade mission to Toronto involving more than 70 local business leaders is resulting in “real deals, real opportunities, real revenue and additional jobs,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Friday.
Members of economic development teams and executives from both sides of the bay spent two full days in the Canadian city generating opportunities for trade, investment, tourism, film and digital animation.
At a debriefing the day after the group’s return, Steve Morey, director of business recruitment for the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. said it was premature to release hard results from the trip — some members and businesspeople extended their stay and are still completing deals — but their hosts were “all very bullish on Tampa and Florida.”
He said economic results would be presented in the next few weeks.
More than 4 million Canadians visit Florida every year, and every day, 287 passengers travel between Tampa International Airport and Toronto.
“Whether they’re snowbirds or they simply vacation in the Tampa Bay area, there is a familiarity with our area already, and that makes it that much easier to talk about exchanging trade with the region,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “I found this trip, as I did last year’s to Santiago (Chile), really beneficial for both of our communities and for the whole Tampa Bay region.”
Two beneficiaries of the Gold Key program, which involves customized one-on-one meetings arranged by the U.S. Commercial Service for business people, said they are now doing business with Toronto customers.
“This is very encouraging, and it’s great to expose your capabilities and form business relationships,” said Chuck Ottaviano, president of MagicEar of Clearwater, which makes listening devices.
Robert Ramirez, chief operating officer of Aero Supply USA, a distributor of aerospace, military and commercial hardware, said his Clearwater company also closed deals in Toronto.
Buckhorn said the trip symbolized the new era of cooperation between oft-warring sides of the bay.
“The days of Hillsborough and Pinellas fighting about our respective areas and touting ourselves at the expense of others are done,” Buckhorn said. “You will never hear that from Mayor Kriseman or I. We compete as a region, we’re stronger together as a region, we benefit when each other succeeds, and as long as he and I are in office, those bridges will always be conduits to cooperation and not barriers.”

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