July 23, 2014

Brazil brings real benefit to Florida

The country earns the title 'Floridian of the Year'

Mike Vogel | 12/28/2011

Since the mid-1990s, Brazil firms Citrosuco and Cutrale have controlled a sizable share of the Florida orange juice processing market through plants it bought here. And Florida-founded and Miami-based Burger King has been Brazilian owned since 2010, when 3G Capital acquired it for $4 billion.

More recently, Brazilian investor BVCC bought a 105,000-sq.-ft. office building at the Boca Village Corporate Center for $33 million and Millport Associates, a subsidiary of a Brazilian industrial conglomerate, signed on to lease 25,000 square feet in the Miramar Park of Commerce for its first facility in the U.S. to manufacture structural panels for the construction industry.

Marcos PereiraBrazil native Marcos Pereira came to Florida decades ago and now works for Sunstate Bank, owned by a Brazilian family. "At this point, with the real strong vis-a-vis the dollar, the economy doing well, we have seen another big wave of Brazilians coming here. A lot depends on the strength of the Brazilian economy and the Brazilian currency."
Though the lion's share of Brazil's influence is felt in south Florida and Orlando, other parts of the state have benefited. Callaway, in the Panhandle, will see 300 new jobs in coming years thanks to Eastern Shipbuilding Group's deal announced in 2011 to build five ships for Boldini, a Brazilian company active in that nation's offshore oil industry.

The Brazilian financial sector is expanding here, too. The Burmaian family, active in various businesses in Brazil, including banking, is among the players through its Coral Gables-based Sunstate Bank, a three-branch community bank with $170 million in assets. Banco do Brasil, a large government-owned bank that long has had an agency in Miami, has proposed buying EuroBank in Miami to reach U.S. customers. Another bank, Banrisul, in 2011 decided to close its New York branch in favor of opening a new foreign agency branch in Miami.

Ferraz says the Brazilian-American chamber receives three to five inquiries a month from Brazilians interested in doing business in Florida. And, as evidenced by the Brazilian flags flying outside businesses in Pompano Beach in Broward or other Brazilian enclaves in Florida, there are a host of smaller enterprises owned by some of the estimated 300,000 Brazilian immigrants in Florida.

How Brazil investment and spending in Florida grows depends, of course, on the Brazilian economy and the exchange rate with the real. The nation has weathered the global economic crisis better than many, and the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation projects its growth pace will remain well ahead of other developed countries, though slowing to under 4%, below Brazil's 4.5% trend line. The nation's economy will be stimulated as it prepares for and hosts the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016.

Goldner expects his caffeine plant to stimulate Palm Beach County. The United States is his largest market, and he wanted a U.S. factory so that it would be easily accessible to customers and to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "We felt a very warm welcoming to us," Goldner told the leaders in Riviera Beach. "We look forward to working with you and to grow the economy as much as possible."

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