Bi-national chamber starts international business seriesBy Paola Iuspa
The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in South Florida this week launches a series of 12 cable TV shows on international business.
The first show, an overview on the impact of foreign commerce and the role the binational chamber can play, will air on WLRN (ch. 17) at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. During the next three months, the program will be telecast weekly in three time slots with segments airing at 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and rebroadcast at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. Fridays.
The Bi-National Chambers of Commerce is an umbrella organization that represents almost 40 foreign chambers throughout South Florida and many trade organizations. Lita Haeger, show host and chamber president & CEO, said the series aims to familiarize the public with one of South Florida's most important industries.
"I want the show to be simple but thorough," Ms. Haeger said. "I want the everyday people to understand how the community benefits from this industry and to dispel any fear they may have about getting started in this business.
"It is also a way to introduce the many trade organizations from where they could get help. Many see international business as taboo, something limited to an elite. But that is a misconception."
Future topics for the show's panelists, Ms. Haeger said, will include the function of international banking in Miami, the immigration of professionals for the development of business and the influence of international trade on the local economy. One show will cover how owners of small companies trying to import or export to high-risk countries can get letter of credits.
"Big international banks won't do it," Ms. Haeger said. "But we have small banks here. Their niche is to work with small import-export companies."
Another program, she said, will talk about investor visas and the process of relocating employees hired abroad.
"Some people think that bringing professionals from other countries is bad because they think newcomers take job opportunities away from locals," Mr. Haeger said. "That is another misconception. Companies bring professionals from other countries after they couldn't find anyone here with the qualifications. Without those positions filled, companies couldn't continue growing. That would also halt the growth of the local economy."
Peter Cajigal, chief of cargo development in Miami International Airport's marketing and trade development division, said the show is his opportunity to tell people how the airport is preparing for new cargo companies moving to Miami to serve clients in Latin America.
"The community at large doesn't know what is going on in Miami and the trade," Mr. Cajigal said. "With this show they may get interested.
The second segment in the series will begin airing Dec. 12 and features international banking.
Diane Ashley, past president of the Florida International Bankers Association and president of Ashley Consultant Group Inc., said a on international banking is a good idea.
"There is a lot of money being generated by international banking," she said. "Educating is the only thing this program will accomplish and maybe get people involved."
Panelist Manny Mencia, senior vice president of international trade & business development for Enterprise Florida and one of the chamber's directors-at-large, said the program will bring exposure to the binational chamber as well as to each chamber the group represents.
"Individual chambers are limited in funds for advertising," he said. "They will benefit from what the organization does."
Ralph Puga, president of the Florida Trade Association and binational chamber vice president, agreed.
"This is how people will learn about us," Mr. Puga said. "Otherwise, they might have never heard of us."
Mr. Puga, a future panelist, said the information the show would give on international trade organizations would also help some of those already in the business.
"Other professionals may learn new things about our services and refer people with specific needs to us," Mr. Puga said.
Ms. Haeger said the four-year-old binational chamber, which is financed through special events, didn't pay for the air time but that it took her a year to get the space on the cable channel.
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