Mark Trowbridge Named Inaugural Recipient of Florida Chamber of Commerce’s International Champion Award

MIAMI (January 31, 2019) — Mark Trowbridge, President and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce was presented the inaugural edition of the Florida Chamber’s International Champion Award.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce presented Trowbridge with this award during its Miami Area Business Leaders Meeting held at Bacardi USA in Coral Gables. The award recognizes Trowbridge’s partnership, support and direct engagement with the Florida Chamber’s recent Business Development & Trade Mission to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

“What a distinct honor to be recognized by our Florida Chamber for our organization’s international advocacy efforts and commitment to a global marketplace,” said Mark A. Trowbridge, President & CEO, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. “The opportunities that exist on these outstanding international trade missions help us identify and secure foreign direct investment dollars for Florida – and Coral Gables.  They are also the driving force behind our Chamber’s participation by opening doors to endless connections that lead to doing more significant business abroad.”

Trowbridge is an avid supporter of free enterprise and a member of the Florida Chamber Federation.

“Mark’s contributions and willingness to advance the role of international trade is invaluable,” said Alice Ancona, Director of International Strategy and Policy, Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We are grateful to have Mark and the Coral Gables Chambers continued support in this endeavor.”

 

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Helping Florida Grow, One Trade Mission at a Time

Author: Mark A. Trowbridge, President & CEO, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

 

Having just returned from the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever mission trip to Ireland and the UK, I am both energized and optimistic about what lies ahead for Florida’s local chambers of commerce and fellow delegates. These outbound mission trips are incredible opportunities to build business, and in our case, make vital connections with potential partners and collaborators.

With a diverse cross-section of business leaders— led by the Florida Chamber’s International Chair and past Chairman of the Florida Chamber Eric Silagy, CEO of Florida Power and Light— the Florida Chamber’s Business Development and Trade Mission proved to be a terrific chance to form bonds that I am confident will pay dividends far beyond this one-week mission. Education policy leaders, university officials, tourism professionals, banking executives, aviation leaders, small business owners, as well as the Coral Gables Chamber, gathered to create a resource team dedicated to selling Florida as the best place for business. Whether in Ireland or the UK, the energy was palpable and our team was on hand to answer the simple question: Why Florida?

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s The Florida Scorecard, tells us that more than 348,800 Floridians are employed by foreign companies, and a good majority are employed by companies in both Ireland and the UK. With booming economies and tech scenes that are getting noticed globally for companies like Capstone and Cloudbanter, now is the right time to talk about foreign direct investment in Florida.

While in Limerick, two Irish companies committed to opening in Jacksonville, Florida and our own Bank of America announced its intention to move its E.U. headquarters to Dublin. We also met with a Dublin-based scale-up, Pointy, who is working with local retailers to share their product inventories online to assist consumers in easier product procurement.  Now, that is purchasing power! They are interested in the US and we’ve committed to connecting further and making introductions to a great Florida company—Publix Supermarkets.

Before heading to London, we ended our stay in Ireland by hosting a reception with the new Mayor of Dublin, Lord Mayor Nial Ring (now, that’s a great title!). He proved to be a great ambassador for this amazing city and was eager to meet our delegation to share the state of the business climate in Dublin and in Ireland.

In London, the conversation shifted to talks of Brexit, which consumed the airwaves on every “telly” and became the focus of many meetings. Clearly, uncertainty has caused some concern for the local governing officials, but business was brisk in the capital city. The Coral Gables Chamber has always enjoyed a special relationship with our partners in the UK, but this takes on an even more significant meaning in an era of growth and opportunity.

Florida remains of great interest to companies in the UK, and in meeting with London and Partners, an economic development agency with offices in NY, Chicago, LA and San Francisco, we made the strong pitch for investments in Florida—specifically, Miami.

Meeting with companies who have an interest in Florida can be both exhilarating and daunting.  Whether it be through one on one meetings, group briefings, or even in social settings like the reception we co-hosted with VISIT Florida, Enterprise Florida and Leadership Florida at The Shard, you must be ready to make your “pitch” at any moment. Florida’s future is always on our minds and this mission helped us hone in.

With the Tower of London and Tower Bridge as a backdrop, we were reminded of not only the history of our two great economies, but the inter-dependence of our common goals that are focused and poised for growth.

With many thanks to the Florida Chamber, our organization stands at the ready to welcome these new companies to Florida and we will roll-out the red carpet as a local chamber to help them invest their capital, hire our amazing talent and make Florida their forever home.

 

Mark A. Trowbridge, President & CEO, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

Florida Needs Another Business Rent Tax Reduction

By Mark A. Trowbridge, President & CEO
Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

 

Big things are happening in the great State of Florida!

The state unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6 percent, job growth is higher than the national average and 112.3 million visitors came to The Sunshine State this past year. Most importantly, we are moving our State toward a more competitive and global economy, and businesses are taking notice.

But in order to achieve the goal of becoming the No. 1 destination for business and real estate in the country, the Florida Legislature must continue to support smart policies that create jobs and advance economic opportunity for all Floridians.

Our business climate in Florida must be peerless in terms of regulation and our investment in creating a top-tier workforce requires a relentless pursuit of excellence.

However, there are impediments to us achieving these goals which require significant action, regulatory reform and political will.

Did you know that Florida is the only State in the entire country that forces small businesses to pay an archaic tax on the rent they pay for their storefront?

Known as the business rent tax (BRT), this tax puts all Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage versus the rest of the country. In fact, all Florida businesses must pay a six percent tax on the space they lease, and that number if often higher depending on the municipality the business is located in, such as where our Chamber is located in Miami-Dade County.

This arcane tax costs Florida businesses $1.7 billion every single year and plays a significant role in decision making when businesses look to relocate or expand in our state. It also heavily impacts smaller businesses that may struggle to grow because of the BRT, forcing them to stop hiring, delay expansion or even close their business for good.

While Florida Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 7109 into law at the conclusion of last session, it included only a modest 0.2 percent BRT reduction.  More must be done this session to make Florida the most competitive state in the global economy, our rightful place as a State of 20 million.

The Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Florida Chamber and our realtor association colleagues, believes that a reduction in the business rent tax is good for business and the best course of action during the 2018 Legislative Session.

A full percentage point, or even a smaller, gradual reduction, in the business rent tax would send a clear signal to Florida’s business community – and the rest of our country – that Florida desires to be the top place to grow your business.

Our Chamber’s leadership and membership urge our legislators to support your local business community this session and reduce or eliminate the business rent tax once and for all.