Tampa leaders return from Brazilian trip, foresee Brazilian investments

Tampa businesses and associations say they've come back from a delegation trip to Brazil armed with contracts they say are worth millions of dollars.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the week-long trip to Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo is all about raising Tampa's international profile and bringing more business.

"They know Miami, they know Orlando, it's about damn time they learn where Tampa, Florida is," Mayor Buckhorn said. 

They made the announcement in the North American headquarters of Gerdau, the America's largest manufacturer of steel.

The trip gathered professors from USF, Tampa International Airport's CEO Joe Lopano, to Visit Tampa Bay's Santiago Corrada.

The Port of Tampa sought cargo contracts from Brazilian businesses, USF discussed educational programs and Tampa went as far as to sign a Sister City agreement with Porto Alegre.

Tampa Economic Development Corporation president Rick Homans says it's delivering on existing relationships.

"The relationships are there, the connections are there, this trip was all about making them stronger, doing more business and establishing new relationships with all of our partners in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre," he said.

The state of Florida already does an estimated $15.8 billion in economic trade with Brazil, and Brazil is quickly becoming one of the world's strongest economies.

Homans also said plans are underway to bring a coalition from Porto Alegre to Tampa next year to keep fostering the relationships. 

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