Florida, a major international trade center

Fact: Businesses that have an international presence grow faster than their domestic counterparts and are far more likely to survive an economic downturn.

Florida is a major international trade center and hub for businesses across all industries. No other site in the Western Hemisphere can match our unique combination of strategic geographic location, state-of-the-art infrastructure, multilingual workforce, and concentration of corporate and financial resources. We are truly a global business super-state.

Companies from all over the world have regional or North American headquarters here because of our unique assets. The state has a robust international banking center and a diplomatic hub that represents some 80 nations. Many international firms base their warehousing, distribution and manufacturing operations in Florida to take advantage of the easy access to global markets.

Gray Swoope
Gray Swoope

International trade is big business for Florida companies. In 2013, Florida companies exported more than $90 billion in goods and services throughout the global market. More than 60,000 Florida companies export, which accounts for 20 percent of all U.S. exporters. One of the ways in which Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI) assists small and mid-size businesses is through the export assistance programming available through our International Trade & Development division. Our clients report that EFI’s export assistance programs generated almost $700 million last year in expected export sales.

EFI has seven trade offices throughout the state to provide export counseling and advice to Florida manufacturers, export intermediaries and services companies. In addition to EFI’s Florida offices, we have several offices around the world including Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Southern Africa, Spain, Taiwan and U.K./Ireland. These offices counsel Florida businesses looking to export to those countries and identify opportunities for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) opportunities with companies looking to invest or do business in Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott and I believe that FDI is extremely important to the Florida economy and to job creation in Florida. We know that more than 2,500 FDI establishments account for 236,000 jobs in Florida, with most of those paying much higher salaries than domestic counterparts. Florida is a leader in attracting  FDI, ranking fifth among all U.S. states in employment by majority foreign-owned firms and first in the Southeast.

EFI also organizes international trade missions and trade show exhibitions throughout the world to give Florida companies a platform to meet new clients and sell their products. These missions are a large part of Florida’s global recruitment and trade development strategy. EFI has conducted 10 Gov. Scott-led Team Florida missions over the past three years, visiting countries all over the world, including Japan, Brazil, Chile, Israel, France and the United Kingdom. Companies that attended these missions reported total projected sales of more than $400 million.

Our International Trade & Development team also conducted 41 total international and statewide trade events in fiscal year 2012-13 with more than $726 million in expected export sales reported, which was well above our fiscal year goal. These trade events allow companies to showcase their products at leading global exhibitions that focus on high-tech industries such as aviation/aerospace, information and communications technology, and life sciences.

A cornerstone of our export promotion strategies is our export diversification grants program, which assists small companies in entering new markets. Eligible small and medium-sized companies can apply for target sector trade grants to help offset costs and enable them to participate in EFI trade shows and select U.S. certified trade exhibitions in new markets that they would otherwise not have the means to attend.

Our research has shown that businesses that have an international presence grow 15 percent faster than their domestic counterparts and are far more likely to survive during an economic downturn. Exporting is particularly important to Florida manufacturers that want to grow their companies, since according to the National Association of Manufacturers, Florida exports more of its manufacturing production than any other state.