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Courting The U.K.

Lynda Keever

Recognizing the tremendous potential to expand Florida-United Kingdom trade and investment ties, Gov. Jeb Bush led a Team Florida United Kingdom Mission in July. Along with more than 100 Florida business and governmental leaders, scientists and representatives from economic development and educational organizations, I attended business events in London, Farnborough, Edinburgh and Dublin.

The U.K. is the second-largest market in the European Union, with 60 million consumers. Florida and the U.K. have strong trade and investment ties; the U.K. is Florida's 12th-largest trading partner, with total trade exceeding $2.4 billion in 2005. The country also is Florida's second-largest investor, with total investment reaching $5 billion.

Enterprise Florida organized the mission, and sponsors included Bacardi/ Dewar's, Agycon, Akerman Senterfitt, Citrix Systems, Embraer and Florida Trend, among others.

During the seven-day trip, Bush inaugurated the "Florida Pavilion" at the 45th Farnborough International Airshow, the world's largest aerospace exhibition. He also met with CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Embraer, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. At the University of Oxford and Imperial College London, Bush encouraged Florida-U.K. cooperation in the life sciences industry.

Also in London, we attended a reception in the Great Hall at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and Bush hosted a luncheon with Visit Florida to continue promoting the U.K. as our No. 1 market for overseas visitors; 1.49 million British visitors came to Florida in 2005, making Florida the most popular long-haul destination for the British.

Throughout the mission, the governor and my fellow delegates met with key business organizations, including British American Business in London, Scottish Enterprise in the Signet Library of Parliament Square in Edinburgh and the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland.

Team Florida missions are strategic initiatives for Florida companies. Led by the governor or other senior state elected officials and Enterprise Florida President/ CEO John Adams, missions target key markets of opportunities for Florida. High-level meetings are held to promote Florida's economic advantages, generate trade and reverse investment and develop linkages in the target markets.

Since January 1999, Bush has led business development/advocacy missions, as well as goodwill missions, to more than two dozen countries. More than 1,700 business leaders have participated, netting more than $704 million in new business opportunities for the state.

If you'd like to boost your company's or organization's international marketing efforts with this added clout, I encourage you to participate in an upcoming Team Florida mission. It's a great opportunity to take advantage of one-on-one, prearranged appointments that Enterprise Florida staff arranges with business executives in your area of interest. Enterprise Florida can also help showcase your products at major exhibitions worldwide.

At eflorida.com, you may register to receive information about trade opportunities, special programs and events, including upcoming Team Florida missions, export marketing missions, overseas catalog and trade shows, and inbound buying missions.

Lynda Keever
Publisher