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Economy / Business

Enterprise Florida Eyes Overseas Trade Efforts

Construction in downtown Tampa
Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media

Enterprise Florida intends to ramp up marketing and business recruitment during the coming year to try to offset the state’s record job losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

As it puts together a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, the public-private economic development agency is also making an assumption that its employees will be able to go overseas by the final three months of 2020.

The “full steam” effort to encourage job growth includes a focus on reviving international trade, with the hope of sending a contingent to the Medica Trade Fair in November in Dusseldorf, Germany, if international virus-related travel restrictions are eased.

“We did speak to the event organizers, who have been in touch with their government. They have not canceled or postponed that event,” Enterprise Florida Chief Operating Officer Robert Schlotman told members of the agency’s Finance & Compensation Committee on Thursday. “They feel that, as of right now, it's still scheduled to go on. And we are anticipating that and planning for it.”

With stay-at-home restrictions being eased in Florida and across the nation, committee Chairwoman Holly Borgmann said the agency has a “great opportunity” to start luring businesses and employees to Florida.

“If you're a business in New York right now, and you're spending so much on taxes, and you've been hard hit by this epidemic, why not take a look at cutting your costs and moving to Florida?” said Borgmann, who is vice president of government affairs at ADT home security service in Boca Raton. “So, this is a great opportunity for us to go out on an aggressive footing.”

The Legislature in March passed a state budget that includes $16 million for Enterprise Florida, though Gov. Ron DeSantis has not acted on the spending plan. In its proposed budget for the upcoming year, Enterprise Florida has designated $3.1 million for overseas travel and marketing efforts.

Schlotman said up to $1 million of the overseas efforts could be focused on a virtual program, but the intention is to increase in-person travel to trade shows.

“If we can pull off the first one successfully, we will certainly try and go for a second one before the end of the fiscal year,” Schlotman said.

“Our plan and the development of this budget is based on us starting to travel again in the October, November, December timeframe and for the next six months after that,” he added.

Borgmann said the virtual matchmaking effort should help smaller companies “that can't afford to take the time, spend the money to go on a full trade mission, but are still interested in maybe dipping their toe in the export market.”

One international change expected in the upcoming year is relocating a contracted Southeast Asia office from Hong Kong to Singapore, Schlotman said.

“What we've decided to do with the changes going on in Hong Kong currently, is we are going to cover more of that region by moving the office to Singapore, where we feel that hub will be a better return, more beneficial to what we're trying to accomplish, and still be able to facilitate working with Hong Kong and China,” Schlotman said.