The Brazil Florida Business Council’s Inaugural Luncheon

March, 2015 – The Brazil-Florida Business Council, Inc. (BFBC) held its inaugural luncheon at the Tampa Club. The BFBC is an independent, not-for-profit business association based in Tampa, Florida. The purpose of the event was to bring business executives from the Tampa Bay area together to discuss their insights into Brazilian and Florida business relations to foster bilateral trade and investment opportunities.

Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy and Florida’s number one international trade partner, with over $16.9 billion in bilateral commercial sales in 2014. It is one of the world’s largest engines of economic growth with a highly diversified economy. New investment opportunities have been consistently emerging and there is a potential for internal growth in all sectors.

Florida has well-developed business laws and low corporate and personal tax rates. With 21 commercial airports, 14 deep water shipping ports and 3 spaceports, Florida is a favored jurisdiction for all domestic and international businesses. The Brazil-Florida Business Council’s goal is to further strengthen our region’s business ties with Brazil by encouraging trade relations and attracting Brazilian populations to the greater Tampa Bay area.

At the inaugural luncheon, Sueli Cristina Bonaparte, Founding President and Chairman of BFBC gave the opening remarks. Ms. Bonaparte has devoted her professional career to opening the communications between businesses in Brazil and the United States. She has quite an extensive background, including, but not limited to, being the former Executive Director of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce in New York, Founding President of the Brazilian Institute of Arizona and a Board Member of Esperanca Foundation in Arizona.

“The Brazil-Florida Business Council is a timely and much anticipated business group in the Tampa Bay area,” Bonaparte said, “and today’s succession of events will mark the next crucial steps towards our mission goal of expanding economic opportunities for both regions.”

Sandy Murman, Chairman/ Hillsborough County Commissioner, was a guest speaker. Ms. Murman has been County Commissioner since 2010 and was elected by her fellow commissioners to serve as Chairman for the Board of County Commissioners. She discussed the fact that Florida is becoming less dependent upon tourism and more dependent upon economic development.

“Our community is exploding with opportunities. It’s on fire. Brazil is exploding and on fire, too. So we are going to explode together!” said Murman.

Ms. Murman then introduced the Honorable Mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn. Since Bob Buckhorn became the Mayor of Tampa in 2011, he has focused on the city’s economic leadership, stability, and business opportunity. The city is concentrating on urban development, particularly along the riverfront. Mayor Buckhorn serves on several boards and governing authorities including the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority and the Tampa Port Authority. .

“We are going to plant the flag of Tampa all over the world”, said Buckhorn.

Given the fact that Tampa is the closest port to the Panama Canal and organizations such as BFBC bringing our countries together, we have the ability to expand our presence far and wide.

Rick Homans, President and CEO of Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation introduced the Keynote Speaker, Gabrielle Mandel, who currently serves as Country Manager, Brazil and Southern Cone, United States Trade & Development Agency. Ms. Mandel is responsible for business development, project preparation and evaluation, and supervision of USTDA activities in Brazil and the Southern Cone region.

“Brazil is a dynamic portfolio for U.S. trade”, said Mandel.

There are numerous business opportunities in Brazil in areas such as aerospace, airports, environmental technologies, telecommunications equipment, to name a few. Florida has manufacturing, defense and homeland security, information technology and financial services. BFBC’s goal is to bring the professionals together to promote business and economic growth for Brazil and the United States.

The luncheon brought together over 125 people from all over the Tampa Bay area and Brazil.