International Town Hall touted as a ‘big success’

May 19, 2015

Suzette Porter | TBN Weekly
More than 400 community leaders and businesses attended the 2015 International Town Hall May 8 at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg.
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance, which hosted the event, declared the half-day event as a “big success.”
“It has been an exciting year since the Tampa Bay Export Alliance was announced at the 2014 International Town Hall,” according to a statement on the Alliance’s website. “Leaders in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have been working together on international initiatives and achieving amazing results.”
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance is a partnership between Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. It formed in 2014 “to grow jobs and capital investment by increasing the international export of products and services within the bi-county area.”
Throughout the year, members of the Alliance traveled to Chile and Panama. Educational sessions have focused on teaching local businesses how to export their products.
“The goal of this partnership is to assist local companies to increase their exports to grow their businesses and create new jobs. Local companies such a Custom Manufacturing & Engineering, Hydro-Dyne Engineering, and SOS Technologies have fascinating stories to tell about their experiences on our first TBEA trade mission to Chile and the results of their first foray into the Chilean market,” said Mike Meidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development, in a media release. “Hearing them speak about what they learned, the relationships they created, and the results they achieved will show just how much opportunity there is for Tampa Bay companies interested in pursuing trade in foreign markets.”
Don Bunkenburg, managing director of Lufthansa’s Corporate Sales and Regions for North America, delivered the keynote presentation. Lufthansa will begin offering nonstop flights from Tampa International Airport to Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 25.
Tampa International Airport also has increased its frequency of flights to Zurich, Switzerland and Panama City, Panama. Port Tampa Bay, the largest port in Florida, is buying new gantry cranes to handle increased container traffic and working to recruit more shipping lines and manufacturers.
“In short, our international efforts are taking hold and producing results,” the Alliance says.
The Town Hall included presentations on doing business with Cuba and attendees had an opportunity to attend a luncheon and talk about business opportunities with members of a Panama delegation, which was in the area on a two-day trade mission.
Miedel said visiting with the Panama delegation was a “great opportunity for our local companies to learn more about Panama, and how the special economic zones can benefit companies. We had a very productive visit to Panama, so we’re looking forward to expanding this relationship and hosting the delegation in Tampa Bay.”