TBEA Chile Mission a Big Win for Local Firms, Tourism, Port

January 22, 2015

More than 40 business and community leaders from across the Bay area took Santiago, Chile by storm in December on the first trade mission organized by the Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA). The TBEA, a partnership of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and Pinellas County Economic Development, was formed to strengthen international trade in the region. Led by City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel, the mission was a resounding success, resulting in an estimated $9 million in actual and potential export sales for local businesses.  The 14 diverse companies participating on the trip conducted over 70 meetings with prospective customers – and some actually signed deals and sold product while on the trip.

The Chile mission created numerous other exciting business opportunities for the region as well:
•  Visit Tampa Bay and Visit St Pete/Clearwater met with nearly 150 tour operators and travel agents, and laid the ground work for inbound familiarization tours – important meetings because of the new visa waiver program that has made travel between the United States and Chile much easier.
•  Mayors Buckhorn and Kriseman met with Mayor Caroleena Toha Morales of Santiago and signed an agreement pledging support for increased trade, education and cultural activities between the three cities.
•  Our delegation met with the major fruit export association of Chile and began to explore the possibility of bringing Chilean fruit and vegetables through Port Tampa Bay.
•  Representatives from the University of South Florida and Eckerd College met with their counterparts to explore exchange programs and market our universities to Chilean students and businesses.

Santiago, Chile was selected for the first TBEA trade mission for several key reasons. Chile is Florida’s fourth largest export destination and one of the most stable and prosperous nations in Latin America. Santiago is also a key market for Copa Airlines, which began serving Tampa International Airport less than two years ago. Increasing business travel between Latin America and Tampa is a high priority for the EDC as we support the efforts of Tampa International Airport to secure more nonstop flights overseas.

The TBEA is now busy planning its second International Town Hall.  Please mark your calendars for Friday, May 8th from 7:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg. We’ll be sharing more details in future editions of the newsletter.

Tampa Bay Times, Chile trip could pay off economically for Tampa Bay

Tampa Tribune, Chile Mission Yields Results for Local Companies