Tampa Bay Export Alliance in Toronto to explore opportunities

October 19, 2015

    Alexis Muellner, Tampa Bay Business Journal Link to story   Tampa Bay Export Alliance leaders are traveling to Toronto on Monday to participate in a joint trade mission. Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn are leading the delegation of approximately 70 Tampa Bay business leaders. It ends Thursday.     The goal is to develop commercial relationships and increased exports to Canada, a release said.   "The local companies joining us for this Canadian trade mission will have meetings tailored to their products and services that are designed to get them to the next step as they explore and expand into this market,” said Mike Meidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development, in a prepared statement.     Leaders from Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Tampa International Airport, Visit Tampa Bay and Film Tampa Bay will also be participating in the mission.   The group will spend two full days in Toronto to promote international business, tourism, and film and digital media industry opportunities between Canada and the Tampa Bay region. The agenda will include a Gold Key program (customized one-on-one meetings arranged by the U.S. Commercial Service) as well as film and digital media and other industry site visits,   informational briefings, investment meetings and business roundtables. Delegates will also have the opportunity to participate in several networking events and a reception hosted by the U.S. Consul General, the release said.     Canada is the No. 1 export destination for our region's goods and services and Tampa Bay’s third largest source of foreign direct investment, said Rick Homans, president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., in the release. “The opportunities for local companies to expand their North American footprint and find a receptive market for their goods and services in Canada are significant."   The Tampa Bay metro area currently trades almost $2 billion with Canada annually, and Canadian companies including TD Bank, Masonite, CAE and Air Canada employ more than 2,200 residents in the region.   "One of Tampa Bay's great strengths is the diversity of its businesses, with mission participants representing a cross-section of industries: medical devices, information technology, travel and tourism, aerospace, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, filmmaking, and more," said Bruce A. Heyman, U.S. Ambassador to Canada in the release.   The Export Alliance is a cooperative effort between Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., formed in 2014 to grow jobs and capital investment.