The country earns the title 'Floridian of the Year'
• Florida is the No. 1 U.S. destination for Brazilians, with 48% of Brazilian tourists to the U.S. visiting the Sunshine State.
• More than 1 million Brazilians visited the state in 2010, 49% higher than a year earlier.
• Spending by Brazilian visitors to Florida totaled $1.4 billion, up 78% from a year earlier, elevating Brazil to the top spot for spending from overseas countries in 2010, 55% more than No. 2 U.K. The average spending per Brazilian traveler was $1,313 in 2010.
• The Brazilian middle class has grown by nearly 50%, from 62 million in 2005 to 91.8 million in 2009.
• Brazil's economy grew 7.5% in 2010.
• Trade between Miami's customs
Source: Visit Florida
Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the local economic development group, the Business Development Board, says she believes it to be the first sizable Brazilian business investment in Palm Beach County.
It's hardly a first for Florida. Indeed, 2011 became the year that cemented Brazil's importance to Florida. For the first time, Brazil surpassed the United Kingdom as the top source for overseas tourists. Brazilians played a key role in soaking up Miami's distressed real estate to the point that developers began new condo projects. Aircraft maker Embraer opened its first factory in the United States in Melbourne to make executive jets, and in December it opened a new customer care center there. Brazil, as it has been since 1998, was again Florida's top trade partner. Florida captures 22% of all U.S.-Brazil trade and runs a surplus, exporting $13.8 billion to Brazil while importing just $2.2 billion.
The relationship was underscored by Gov. Rick Scott when he made a trade visit there in October with 115 companies from Florida. Companies that participated say they expected more than $95 million in export sales in the next 12 months thanks to the mission.
Embraer now has a jet manufacturing facility and a customer service center in Melbourne. [Photo: Embraer]