I’d always thought of Florida as miles upon miles of pristine coastlines and beaches; theme parks with all of their thrills and spills; urban cores and rural landscapes. But in looking for a place to relocate my company, I found that the Sunshine State had made a name for itself in the business world as well. As one of the fastest-growing areas in the Tampa Bay region, it was clear to me the Pasco played an integral role in that development. Before making the move, though, I had to learn more.
Florida is widely known for its natural beauty and rich culture, but business owners know that it has something else to offer, too. It is the seventeenth largest economy in the world, and the seventh largest exporter of state-origin products. That means that Florida businesses have unparalleled access to opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to find in other states, a truth that wasn’t lost on me. I’d been in business for five years; things were going well, and I knew we’d outpaced the small, land-locked town where we started.
Like any successful business owner, I have a lot on my plate, and figuring out where to move the company added extra tasks to my workload. I knew that expanding our reach to international markets was a must, and so a port city made sense. I reached out to some other companies that I knew had been in similar positions, and they all told me the same thing: contact the Pasco Economic Development Council.
Pasco EDC partners with organizations, including Global Tampa Bay, to make sure local businesses interested in export opportunities have access to global networking events. I wanted to get a better sense of what that meant, so I looked into their October 2018 Export Sales Mission in Chile.
That led me to a couple of businesses that had participated in the mission. Kevin Puccini, the Director of Sales at Polaris Connectors, said Pasco EDC played a huge role in moving international trade off of the back burner and into the forefront of the company’s growth plan. When asked about the mission itself, he said, “Everything was well planned and thought out. It was a quick in and out, but we had some excellent meetings and gained an incredible amount of knowledge of the Chilean market. I have a number of contacts and have had some good follow up from the meetings at this point.” He explained that it would have taken months, at least, for Polaris to set up an international trade program on their own. Working with Pasco EDC made it easy. They’re definitely planning to attend more trade missions in the future.
Mike Bishop, the founder and co-owner of Big Storm Brewery, found exactly the opportunity he’d been hoping to find for his business in Chile. Like me, Mike found himself at the helm of a company that was ready to start exporting to international markets—a huge leap that isn’t always easy to take. Pasco EDC made sure that he landed on his feet. The trade mission linked him to the partners and services his company needed to support their specific growth goals.
We weren’t a Pasco business yet, but seeing the benefit the Chile mission had on other businesses had a huge influence on my decision. I could definitely see our company participating in similar trade missions in the future.
In addition to partnering with larger entities for things like trade missions, Pasco EDC has a reputation for working closely with local businesses to ensure they’re receiving the support they need. In my research, I came across the story of J.T.D. Enterprises. Seven years ago, Tom and Deni Nihra, owners of J.T.D. Enterprises, Inc., were looking to relocate their business to Florida and reached out to Pasco EDC as part of their research; two years later, the Nihras announced their move to Pasco. After their company’s relocation was complete, the Nihras and J.T.D. Enterprises stayed connected with Pasco EDC and its ongoing programs, connecting with other area CEOs through Pasco EDC’s CEO Roundtable program.
“The Pasco EDC team took a genuine interest in us and our business,” said Tom Nihra. “We chose Pasco because of Pasco EDC.”
When J.T.D. Enterprises was ready to expand their business internationally two years ago, Pasco EDC provided export trade counseling to help them grow in a different direction. One of the ways in which Pasco EDC assisted the Nihras was through a connection with SBDC, which offers introductory and advanced classes in international trade, as well as customized export marketing plans developed by Certified Global Business Professionals to identify overseas growth strategies.
Deni Nihra spoke highly of Pasco EDC and the services it provided their business. “If a business came to me and asked me what I thought, I would tell them, ‘you will have support one year, two years, and more down the road.’ Pasco EDC does a great job educating business owners on the programs available to them that help them grow and enhance their business.”
The Nihras’ testimony inspired me. That, alongside the other information I’d found in my research, was enough to seal the deal. We’ve started the process of relocating our operations to Pasco, and I couldn’t be happier with the level of support and enthusiasm we’ve received from the EDC. My biggest hope is that we’re all settled in time for the Export Sales Mission to Panama in March 2019.Find out how Pasco EDC’s International Trade Program can help your business