Trade Leaders to Explain Florida Plan

Florida has ambitious goals to boost its role as a global trade hub, and Broward County will host a free event Nov. 6 to inform businesses about those plans and resources to help accomplish them.

The afternoon session in Dania Beach will feature a presentation of the new “Florida: Made to Trade” plan developed by the Florida Chamber Foundation with the state’s Department of Transportation.

Among its goals: Create 150,000 jobs over five years in trade, transportation, logistics, export-oriented manufacturing and related value-added services; expand Florida’s market share for U.S. trade with Latin America; and double the value of Florida-made exports over the next five years.

The “Doing Business with the World” event is set for 1 to 6 p.m. at the Design Center of the Americas, 1855 Griffin Road.

The presentation by Florida Assistant Secretary of Transportation Richard Biter on state goals and logistics plans is set for 1:30 p.m.

An expo follows from 4 to 6 p.m. featuring representatives from South Florida consulates of numerous nations and from bi-national chambers of commerce such as the Colombian-American Chamber.

To register, contact Paola Isaac Baraya at or 954-357-7894.

For the report, visit  “Florida: Made for Trade.”

Florida now has about 60,000 companies that export at least one product, accounting for one in five exporters in the country, the report said. One way to expand Florida trade would be for each exporter to expand their focus to more countries, the study suggests.

Did You Know Florida Exports $1.1 Billion in Goods to Panama?

Did You Know?

From 2008 to 2010, $1.1 billion in Florida goods were exported to Panama? In addition, Florida is home to more than 60,000 exporting companies, meaning one out of every five of the nation’s exporters are located in Florida

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is currently visiting business leaders in Panama to strengthen our trade relationship and further drive our state to becoming the global hub for trade to and from the U.S.

Joined by Florida Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, and several Florida Chamber partners, we are actively advocating to become a global leader in international trade.


Representatives from the Florida Chamber and Enterprise Florida tour Gatún Locks at the Panama Canal.

Pictured from left-to-right: Florida Chamber Executive V.P. David Hart, Enterprise Florida V.P. of Trade Development Services Ivan Barrios, Enterprise Florida Senior V.P. of International Trade and Development Manny Mencia, Florida Chamber Director of Global Outreach Alice Ancona and Florida Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida President and CEO Gray Swoope.

With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Free Trade Agreement, Panama presents Florida companies with tremendous opportunities. Post-Panamax vessels are nearly three times the size as current vessels being used. Florida is poised to have the first port south of Virginia, PortMiami, which can receive the post-Panamax ships that will be coming from Asia through the Canal. Florida’s gateways are better prepared at being able to facilitate the trade relationship between Florida and Panama.

Florida’s 15 deep-water seaports are well-positioned to lead the way to attract new international trade and commerce. Thanks to unprecedented support from the Florida Legislature, our ports can boast state-of-the-art infrastructure investments and increased connectivity from strategic projects such as on-dock rail and intermodal container transfer facilities. These new opportunities are outlined in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Trade & Logistics 2.0 Study, which offers recommendations that will help fuel Florida’s competitive growth.

But realizing our state’s global potential requires vision.

“As the global marketplace doubles in size over the next 20 years, we ignore the importance of international trade at our own demise,” said Doug Davidson, Market Executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Trade & Logistics Institute. “We have to continue to shed light on the opportunities, and with leadership from the business community, policy makers, and organizations like the Florida Chamber Foundation through their Florida Trade & Logistics 2.0 Study, we can secure tens of thousands of high-wage jobs and guarantee that our state is globally competitive in 2030 and beyond.”

Team Florida Prepares For Economic Mission Trip to Panama

Global trade is now, more than ever, at the forefront of Florida’s recovering economy. we cannot deny that global trade is big business in Florida. Global trade means high-wage jobs and economic prosperity for Florida. The Sunshine State is home to more than 60,000 firms dedicated to bringing their goods and services to consumers around the globe. International business and foreign direct investment accounts for approximately 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity, and directly supports more than one million Florida jobs.

Solidifying Florida’s position as a global hub for trade is a key strategic initiative of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Florida has long been an important consumer market and a gateway for trade between the United States and Latin American and Caribbean nations.

With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Free Trade Agreement, Panama presents Florida companies tremendous opportunities. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s original Trade and Logistics Study (2010), identified the Panama Canal expansion as a seminal moment and called for our state to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in ports and infrastructure. Governor Rick Scott and the legislature stepped-up with significant investments, and now Florida is poised to have the first port south of Virginia, PortMiami, that can receive the post-Panamax ships that will be coming from Asia through the Canal.

Post-Panamax vessels are nearly three times the size as current vessels being used. Florida’s gateways are better prepared at being able to facilitate the trade relationship between Florida and Panama.

Currently, Panama is one of the strongest economies in Latin America. The country boasts the second fastest growing GDP in the region, expected to reach a 6 percent growth in 2015. Total merchandise trade between Florida and Panama totaled $2.3 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow.

For these reasons, the Florida Chamber of Commerce- lead by Florida Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope- will be joining partners Port Tampa Bay, Gulf Power, Keiser University, Port Miami, Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Bank of America, St Joe Company, Port Everglades, Tampa International Airport Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, and Doug Wheeler of Florida Ports Council on an Export Sales Mission to Panama October 5-7.

The widening of the Panama Canal, together with the growth in Latin American and Caribbean markets, will realign global trade lanes and increase flows through this region in the coming decades.

Today the state of Florida is a global hub for trade. It took decades of innovative efforts, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship from the private sector, strategic investments from the public sector and capitalizing on opportunities like free trade agreements and the expansion of the Panama Canal to claim this title.

Florida’s international relationships are invaluable to our economy. By working to create opportunities with nations like Panama, and fueling massive economic development projects like the Panama Canal expansion and the dredging of PortMiami, we can diversify our own economy and fuel long-term investments by global businesses. Everything we do, we do on a global scale.

Florida’s future prosperity and our growth as a global hub for international trade are inextricably linked. In order for Florida to continue on its mission to be a global hub for trade, the business community must unite and policymakers must remain committed to Florida’s trade future. We hope you will save the date for International Days 2015, April 7-9. Contact for more information.

Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line Featuring Doug Wheeler

With the Florida Chamber Foundation’s latest Trade and Logistics Study 2.0 Rollout around the corner, Doug Wheeler, President and CEO of the Florida Ports Council, joins us in the studio to highlight Florida’s opportunities for global competitiveness and the historic investments in seaport infrastructure made by Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature.

Click here to learn more about The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line and view previous programs.

Shaking the Title as the State’s ‘Best Kept Secret’

By VALERIE GARMAN | The News Herald


MARIANNA — Business leaders from across Northwest Florida gathered in Marianna on Monday to discuss ways to shake the region’s unofficial title as the state’s “best kept secret.”

The need to attract new manufacturing, develop a skilled workforce and better market the area were major themes to come out of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s regional rollout of its statewide Trade and Logistics Study, a strategic transportation plan to grow trade, freight, manufacturing and logistics industries in the state.

Foundation vice president Tony Carvajal presented an overview of the study, noting $20 billion worth of goods transported in and out of Florida each year are not even made in the state.

“If all we want to be is great seaports, airports, if all we want to do is move things on rails and trucks, and all we want to do is be a pass through for the rest of the world … we know how to play that game,” Carvajal said. “If we’re going to grow this state, if we’re going to grow particularly Northwest Florida , this is one of the things we’ve got to focus on.”

The statement was one repeated several times through the half-day event, as several regional transportation and economic development experts took to the stage discuss the day’s themes. Port Panama City Director Wayne Stubbs agreed new manufacturing should be a major focus in the coming years. One of the study’s primary recommendations was to leverage the state’s port investments toward attracting new port-related manufacturers, he said.

“What’s been mentioned is that we need to make more things in Florida , and we’re a believer in that,” Stubbs said. “Supporting the industrial development side of our mission, I think it pays the most bang for its buck.”

At Port Panama City, 2,600 jobs are directly dependent on the port, and another 8,200 are indirectly related. The port’s major manufacturing tenants include Berg Steel Pipe, Oceaneering International and Green Circle Bio Energy.

“I think that’s the future we need to be focused on,” Stubbs said. “A regional port like Panama City is a good testament to that.”

Neal Wade, director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, said to compete for manufacturing projects, the area first needs to change its perception as a tourist economy and develop a skilled workforce, something that is becoming increasingly important for companies.

Wade also is part of an effort to lure a major economic development project to a 2,200-acre “mega-site” in Jackson County , with automobile manufacturing poised as the target industry.

However, increased competition with Mexico ’s rapidly growing auto industry has officials instead looking toward original equipment manufacturers, which supply parts to larger automotive companies. Other opportunities could stem from involvement in moving parts between the U.S. and Mexico from Port Panama City.

“I think we’re going to become, in Northwest Florida, the manufacturing center of Florida ,” Wade said.

Ultimately, Carvajal said for every 10 jobs in export-related manufacturing created, 30 more are produced.

“The whole I-10 corridor is a growing part of the trade and logistics story across Florida and across the Southeast; it’s a global game-changer,” he said, calling on the leaders in the room to ensure the region plays a major role in Florida ’s future trade lines. “There’s one phrase I really, really hate about Northwest Florida : ‘it’s the best kept secret.’ If we can get rid of that phrase and never have it spoken in Florida again, I think we’ll make some huge advances.”

Florida Chamber Outlines Economic Strategies


At a Monday morning seminar in Marianna, the Florida Chamber Foundation talked about strategies that the organization believes are necessary to make this region of the state a hot spot for manufacturing and other job-creating businesses that could “stop the bleeding” as North Florida watches its young people take their talents elsewhere in search of lucrative jobs. They’re trying to make the region a formidable contender on a global economic scale.

The group is taking its message across this sector of the state in a number of seminars like the one held in Marianna. Highlighting some of the observations put forth in “Florida: Made for Trade,” the organization’s Northwest Florida Trade and Logistics Plan, Foundation Executive Vice President Tony Carajal moderated the event.

The goal, Carajal said, is to get North Florida ready to be a key player in the global marketplace, right along with California, Texas, New York, South Florida and other places that more often draw the attention of the auto industry and other job-rich businesses.

One of the necessary strategies in making that happen, he said, is for economic leaders and the general population to start thinking regionally rather than more selfishly about the specific community they occupy when they think about trying to spur growth. Working together rather than against each other could give the area a better shot at landing a business that could translate into jobs for many communities, not just the one place that a big industry might land.

North Florida counties should also build such relationships across state lines, he said, with those in lower Alabama, for instance.

One speaker, Neil Wade of the Bay Economic Development Alliance, provided an example of how that might pay off one day for Jackson and surrounding areas. A big announcement will be formally made on Oct. 3 that Florida officials and their counterparts in Alabama have worked together to all support marketing a property in Campbellton as a “super site” candidate to large businesses looking for a place to set up shop. The announcement will be made in a ceremony at the Florida Welcome Center on U.S. 231 with Jackson County officials and some from Alabama and other Florida counties in attendance.

The auto industry might be one of business-types courted. With officials from both sides of the state line supporting the site, they won’t be competing as a potential site. However, they’ll be free to rigorously compete for businesses that might spring up as a result of the industry moving into town.

A new work has been coined for the concept: Those who espouse it call the strategy a spirit of “co-opertition,” or cooperative competition.

Trying to get industries here is just part of the battle; the region must immediately start building its own new-age manufacturing workforce at the elementary, high-school and college level if the communities hope to catch and hold the serious interest of the companies they want to see moving in. That means tailoring some curriculum tracks to the disciplines that give students a head start on landing such jobs, and give businesses confidence that there’s a workforce waiting in the wings if they were to set up shop.

Trade, logistics and export-oriented manufacturing concerns are some of the target-types the Foundation is after.

The organization wants to develop a Florida Trade and Logistics Institute to continue the state’s quest to move into a stronger position in the global economy. Such a group might help keep track of infrastructure needs as they develop, work out strategies in specific industry-seeing situations, and help keep an overall eye on the many facets that play into the state’s economic goals.