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Tampa advised to seek Asian partner for hotel

Tampa must set its sights beyond the boundaries created by land and sea if its economic growth is going to continue in the 1990s, according to economist Tom Powers, executive vice president of Goodkin Research Corp. in Fort Lauderdale. "Investment, finance and trade all will be international in the '90s," Powers said at Tuesday's Committee of 100 monthly update breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Westshore.

"If my business had to rely on the growth of Florida in the '90s to do what it did in the '80s, it wouldn't do so good," said Powers, whose company advises real estate and financial clients.

"My business is small, and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is going on in Europe and Asia," he said. It is necessary to visit other countries to realize international opportunities, he said.

"On the real estate side, if we weren't doing international business, we wouldn't be doing much of anything," Powers said.

Most of his company's international affiliations take the form of joint ventures in which Goodkin brings foreign money to its clients for domestic deals, Powers said after his address. Foreign investors are particularly interested in hotels and resorts. Office buildings do not hold much appeal because there is little cash flow and the performance is not as good, he said.

In Tampa, a logical opportunity for a joint venture would be a hotel close to the new convention center, Powers said. "To have a new convention center and no hotel is ludicrous," he said.

Tampa has enjoyed a high profile nationally but should be projecting itself more on an international level because "it is a quality area," Powers said.

He said Orlando is "teeming with international dollars," not because the people there are any smarter but because they market their area better.

Greater opportunities for international affiliations lie in the Far East rather than in Europe, Powers said.

Although Europe is easier (for Americans) to understand, the demands for capital there are so great as a result of the reunification of Germany and the emerging democracies that it "will not be a net exporter of capital _ or anything _ in the next decade," Powers said.

Tampa should look to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and even China for joint venture opportunities.