Tampa delegation heads to Panama on trade mission
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and nearly 40 business and community leaders head to Panama today for a three-day trade mission.
Buckhorn said a main goal of the trip is to "keep building on the momentum" created by Copa Airline's decision to start flying nonstop between Panama City and Tampa International Airport. The four-times-a-week flights are Tampa's first-ever route to a major Latain American hub, and local officials hope they will create new opportunities for trade.
"You're down there in two hours and 40 minutes," Buckhorn said. "I tend to use the word 'game-changer' a lot, but that is going to make a big difference. A big difference."
Among other things, Tampa’s delegation will:
• Visit Copa’s operations control center.
• Be briefed by the U.S. Embassy.
• Network with the American Chamber of Commerce of Panama.
• Tour Panama's City of Knowledge, a cluster of business, technology, scientific and other ventures that have been developed on the former Fort Clayton U.S. Army base there.
• Get a briefing on the Panama Canal expansion project.
• Take part in a “Doing Business in Tampa” seminar hosted by the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
The trade mission is being organized by the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit agency that gets some support from local governments. The delegation includes representatives of Port Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport, University of South Florida, Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Bay Partnership.
Since October 2012, the EDC has organized similar trade missions to Colombia, Germany and Switzerland, and Brazil. As on past trips, the EDC is covering the $1,007 cost of Buckhorn’s travel.