At the third Tampa Bay Export Alliance Town Hall, many Tampa Bay Area business owners gathered to learn about more ways to grow business outside of the United States.
The thinking goes: the Tampa Bay Area is already a global tourist destination, and businesses would be wise to sell good to those same people.
The Export Alliance was created in 2014, and has sent business delegations to Canada and Chile and has a trip planned for Mexico in May of 2016.
Business owners at the event tell ABC Action News that the Export Alliance sets up interviews with interested companies and provides translators and transportation on these trips, strongly increasing a company’s chance for success.
"A lot of these [business owners] don't have the employees or ability to really enter that international market," says Charlie Justice, Chairman of the Pinellas County Commission to ABC Action News. "[The Export Alliance] gives them that opportunity, lets them sell their goods, expand their business, hire more people."
It still takes a lot of work, and success from these trips is no guarantee.
For instance, a trip to Chile in 2014 came just as the country suffered an economic downtown.
A trip to Canada preceded a sharp decline in the value of Canada’s dollar as well.
Business owners tell ABC Action News that they now have relationships with business owners in those countries and expect to grow those relationships into fruitful economic growth.
The benefits that exports would have to the local economy are pretty straightforward: more growth means more jobs and better paying jobs. Exports also helps create more economic security in case the local economy struggles in the future.
The Pinellas Economic Development corporation estimates about 2000 Tampa Bay Area companies already export goods. Canada is already the Bay Area’s biggest trader, says the Export Alliance officials. Brazil, the U.K., and Germany are also big traders with Florida businesses. Emerging markets include Latin America and the Middle East.