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Caribbean trade mission trip to yield over $15M in impact

Veronica Brezina

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Tampa Bay business owners and economic development organization representatives recently embarked on a trade mission trip to the Dominican Republic, a destination that serves as Florida’s fourth largest merchandising exporter. 

During the four-day event, members of Global Tampa Bay, a regional collaboration between the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, Pinellas County Economic Development and the Pasco Economic Development Council, and executives from five local companies had 50 one-on-one matchmaking meetings with the international exporters, according to an Oct. 2 announcement. 

As a result of the meetings, sale transactions, estimated to be valued at $15.78 million, will be executed between the companies and exporters over the next 12 months, according to Global Tampa Bay. 

“You know it is a successful mission when businesses report concrete sales and new contracts immediately following an international trade mission,” Bill Cronin, Chairman of Global Tampa Bay and President/CEO of Pasco EDC, said in a prepared statement. 

Executives from Port Tampa Bay and Tampa International Airport attended the trip. The participating businesses included Pasco County-based skincare company Morganna’s Alchemy; Clearwater-based food product manufacturer Yo Mama’s Foods; Tampa-based solar energy company Solar Axiom; AOCUSA, a subsidiary of Tampa-based Amalie Oil Co.; and Hillsborough County-based HSC Organics, which sells organic products to treat hydrophobic soil and revitalize turf grass. 

“Pre-Covid, we’ve made trips to the DR twice a year,” Tampa Bay EDC CEO and incoming Global Tampa Bay Chairman Craig Richard said. “It’s really about increasing the exports GDP in the region. We’ve made trips to Mexico, Europe and Canada, which has always been a strong export market for us.”

During the Dominican Republic mission, business participants averaged nine meetings each with potential clients arranged through the U.S. Commercial Service Gold Key program. Export-ready U.S. companies seeking to export goods or services of U.S. origin or having at least 51% of U.S. content can utilize the program. 

The executives were matched with prospects in a foreign market and provided with appropriate meeting space and translators when required, according to the announcement. 

In a few weeks, the Tampa Bay EDC will be embarking on a FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) mission to Japan. FDI missions are meant to curate opportunities for regional leaders to promote the area to companies looking to expand in the U.S. 

Additionally, in the coming months, Global Tampa Bay will also host FDI missions to Germany for the annual Medica event, one of the largest medical business-to-business trade fairs in the world. They will also visit the United Kingdom. 

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