The 2013 opening of Crystal Lagoons’ U.S. headquarters in Miami represents the next phase in the ongoing global expansion of the Chilean-based company founded by biochemist and real estate developer Fernando Fischmann. This innovation company has developed and patented technology that allows for low-cost construction and maintenance of unlimited-sized bodies of water for recreational business, as well as industrial applications in closed-circuit cooling, water desalinization and mining.
Designed to be self-cleaning, the lagoons use significantly less chemicals than traditional systems and only 2 percent of the energy required by conventional filtering technologies, making them very sustainable.
Formed in 2007, the company is involved in 300 projects in more than 60 countries, including the U.S., Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil and Chile. Currently the company is unveiling eight mega projects in the Middle East and parts of northern Africa. The new projects include the Radmis Egypt lagoon and two major developments in Saudi Arabia.
MOU Spells Trade
Port Tampa Bay’s trade ties with Latin America received a boost in April, when the CEOs of Florida’s largest port and the Colombian Port of Barranquilla signed a sister port memorandum of understanding in Tampa. The MOU strengthens the commercial relationship between the two ports by encouraging shared trade and marketing initiatives, technical expertise and best practices. The signing builds on the longstanding sister city relationship between the cities of Tampa and Barranquilla and follows up on the December 2012 Team Florida trade mission to Colombia led by Gov. Rick Scott, as well as a Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.-organized trade mission to Barranquilla led by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Located at the mouth of the Magdalena River, Barranquilla is the largest multipurpose port along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, handling a wide mix of cargo, including containers, dry bulk, liquid bulk and break bulk commodities such as steel.
Panama Canal Authority CEO Jorge Quijano spoke at the University of Florida in late March as part of the UF Center for Latin American Studies’ 63rd Annual Conference, “Panama Considered: Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future.” It was his first public speech in Florida in more than a year. He confirmed work on the Panama Canal expansion was underway and that an agreement with the consortium was reached regarding cost overruns. FORWARD Florida’s February issue cover story, “Ripple Effect,” detailed the significant impacts on Florida ports in the wake of the Panama Canal’s widening.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and representatives from Orlando International Airport conducted a trip to the Middle East in late April to meet with airline representatives in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey to discuss more international flights to Orlando. Along for the ride was Orlando City Soccer Club President Philip Rawlins. With play starting in 2015 for the new Major League Soccer League franchise, Orlando is anticipating even more international interest in the City Beautiful.
According to the South China Morning Post, Florida’s strategic position as a gateway to Latin America is one of the factors attracting mainland Chinese and Hong Kong investors to buy real estate in Florida. Charlie Rosier, a director of Blackfish, a consultancy that helps Asian clients invest in U.S. properties, said Florida was a gateway to Latin America in the same way as Hong Kong was for mainland China: “As such, it is the third-largest wealth management center in the world after New York and London.”
China is the third largest trading partner of Florida, after Brazil and Colombia. Last year, China’s trade with Florida grew 7.9 percent to $9.65 billion. Enterprise Florida, the economic development arm for the state, announced two new offices in China—in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Florida companies are reporting more than $60.5 million in total projected marine industry export sales through participation in three international trade shows: Cannes International Boat Show, METSTRADE (METS), Amsterdam and Dubai International Boat Show. Recreational boating had a $10.3 billion impact in Florida in 2012, more than any other state.