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Stacey Swank
Pinellas County Economic Development 
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Michelle Bauer
Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation
 (813) 518-2644

Tampa Bay Export Alliance Costa Rica Trade Mission
Generates $12.1M in projected export sales

Pinellas County, Fla. - May 16 2016 - Leaders of the  Tampa Bay Export Alliance, a cooperative effort of Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, are sharing the outcomes of last month's joint trade mission to San Josť, Costa Rica, which took place from April 12-15. 

"The trade mission to Costa Rica was one that allowed the Tampa Bay region to shine across sectors," said Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development.  "We were encouraged to see companies in industries from pharmaceuticals and manufacturing to fuel management and authentic craft brewing joining us for this mission and finding a receptive market for their products and services."

Fourteen companies participated in the U.S. Commercial Service's Gold Key Matching Service. The program provides customized one-on-one meetings with companies in Costa Rica. The Gold Key companies, which conducted more than 70 meetings with potential customers, reported 116 sales leads and $12.1 million in actual and expected export sales.

"SCI was able to meet with a number of strong prospects while in Costa Rica and we are optimistic that we will see a return on our efforts in the near future," said Tal Ezra, president and CEO of Scientific Control Instruments, a Clearwater-based provider of wireless fleet and fuel management solutions. "The companies we connected with during this mission were a great fit for our business, and the two days of arranged meetings saved us a lot of time and effort. We would like to recommend this service to other businesses. The TBEA staff are highly professional and help Florida-based companies to expand."

The 44 trade mission attendees participated in several networking events, including a welcome dinner at Mirador Tiquicia, a commercial briefing by the U.S. Embassy, a luncheon hosted by Port Tampa Bay, a welcome reception hosted by the U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney, and a luncheon with the American Chamber of Commerce of Costa Rica. 

"This mission put us front and center with qualified businesses in Costa Rica that we never could have found on our own," said Elizabeth Howell, President of Perky's Pizza, which provides pizza programs for hotels, resorts, theaters, and retail stores domestically and internationally. "The format provided a terrific environment to conduct serious and substantial business conversations with prospects. Mix in some cultural stops, interaction with the U.S. Ambassador, in-country business group/chamber meetings and fine local cuisine, and you have a super productive trip."

There was also a tourism focus on the Costa Rica mission, with both Visit Tampa Bay and Visit St. Pete Clearwater traveling to San Josť with TBEA. The two convention and visitors bureaus conducted a series of meetings and events to promote tourism to Tampa Bay, speaking with more than 100 travel professionals during the three-day trip. 

"Every time we go abroad and represent Tampa Bay on a mission, or create a new travel route, we have an opportunity to plant a flag and elevate our status as a global center of commerce," said J.P. DuBuque, interim president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. "We already have successful trade agreements in place with our neighbors to the north and south, as well as the Caribbean and Latin America. There is so much opportunity for local businesses to build profitable channels in these markets, and TBEA can connect them with resources that can show them how." 

April's mission to Costa Rica was the third joint mission between the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and Pinellas County Economic Development as TBEA. Previously, TBEA hosted a trade mission to Chile in December 2014 and to Canada in December 2015 to build relationships and increase trade activity in Tampa Bay. For more information on TBEA, please visit TampaBayExportAlliance.com.
 
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The Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA) is a cooperative effort between Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, formed in 2014 to grow jobs and capital investment by increasing the international export of products and services within the bi-county area. The TBEA conducts joint export activities, such as seminars, trade events and trade missions, and supports the export-related growth initiatives of regional economic partners, including Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay.

Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) works with existing businesses to encourage expansion and seeks to attract new companies with high-wage careers to our community. Through investment tools, business classes, professional consulting services, trade missions to open new markets, and strategic partnerships, PCED fosters a pro-business environment and promotes the Ideal Business Climate of Pinellas County, Florida.

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation is the lead economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. Established in 2009 as a partnership between the public sector and private corporate investors, the EDC works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention, and expansion of high-wage jobs and capital investment within targeted industry sectors. Locally, the EDC helps existing businesses access the tools and resources they need to succeed, now and in the future.

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