Make us your home page
Instagram

Hillsborough, Pinellas form new alliance to lead bay area trade missions

TAMPA — It has been no secret that Hillsborough and Pinellas economic development officials have been working together more and more to try to revive the Tampa Bay economy.

On Friday, they made it official: They're an item.

Hillsborough and Pinellas officials announced they've formed the Tampa Bay Export Alliance to lead international trade missions.

Recent missions to Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Panama and Switzerland included Pinellas County businesses and organizations but were organized and dominated by key economic and political players from Hillsborough County.

The new alliance was announced at the 2014 International Town Hall by the bay area's top economic development officials: Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. CEO Rick Homans and Pinellas County Economic Development director Mike Meidel.

"It's kind of like a new bromance between Mike Meidel and myself," Homans said.

"We're working on so many things together. But exports, the international strategy, we felt there was every opportunity for us to do it better if we do it together."

Selling more goods and services internationally would be a huge boon to the economy, officials said, because the bay area exports so little as it is.

According to the Tampa Bay Partnership, in 2012, exports accounted for only 8 percent of the bay area's GRP (gross regional product) for the eight-county region surrounding Hills­borough and Pinellas. The bay area ranked 88th among the 100 U.S. metro areas in terms of how much exports contributed to total GRP.

The national average is 12 percent of exports contributing to GRP. If the bay area were to reach that level of exports, it could inject up to $8 billion into the Tampa Bay economy and potentially create up to 40,000 jobs.

"That's ridiculous," Meidel said of the low export metrics.

"If we just get up to average, that's another 40,000 jobs for Tampa Bay."

International trade and travel has become a big theme for Tampa Bay business and political leaders. In recent years, the bay area has established direct flights to Cuba, Switzerland and Panama, increased Latin American tourism and most recently hosted the Bollywood Oscars, the 15th annual International Indian Film Academy's Weekend & Awards.

Trade missions have become a big part of that international push. Homans and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn have led past ones. But Pinellas political leaders, such as former St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, never took part. The new mayor, Rick Kriseman, however, said St. Petersburg will take a much more active role in local economic development missions.

A big part of those trade missions has been helping local firms meet their international counterparts. It was a kind of "speed dating" to develop business relationships that could lead to business deals. That's what Tampa Bay will be doing when it takes part in a state trade mission to Panama in October, undertakes its first joint Hillsborough-Pinellas trade mission to Chile in December and then prepares to send a delegation to Canada in 2015.

When it comes to economic development, Miedel said the old Hillsborough-Pinellas rivalry didn't make sense.

"Particularly when it comes to export development," he said, "there's not a lot of competition because what we're doing is helping each of our own companies grow their sales."

Said Homans: "If we look at ourselves as competitors, we lose. If we look at ourselves as colleagues and partners, we win. Two plus two, in this case, equals five."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3404. Follow him on Twitter at @jthalji.

Hillsborough, Pinellas form new alliance to lead bay area trade missions 05/09/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 9, 2014 7:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  2. Rick Scott appoints longtime ally Jimmy Patronis as Florida CFO

    State Roundup
    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  5. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.