Trade groups team up to pitch Miami as US-Latin link
By Paola Iuspa
The Trade Mission Center of the Americas Inc. and the World Trade Center Miami are pairing up to organize missions to US cities for the first time to market Miami's business oppportunities within this country.
"This is a very unique concept: a US city going to another US city," Jay Malina, Trade Mission Center chairman, said Monday at a board meeting at which the agreement was approved.
Under the program, called the Trader-Maker Alliance, business leaders will visit two manufacturing cities in the states with potential for strong export sales to Latin America and the Caribbean, said Diane Ashley, a Trade Mission Center board member. The goal is to entice them "to use our facilities to export their products."
Charlotte Gallogly, president of the World Trade Center, said making US manufacturing cities aware of the logistics Miami offers for launching products in Latin America would increase "our local two-way trade."
"We would introduce them to distributors here and in Latin America, shipping companies, assembling plants and so on," she said.
Tentative cities to visit are Cleveland and Buffalo, said Leslie Herren, who is in charge of the Trade Mission Center's day-to-day operations.
The trade center will produce the missions and World Trade Center Miami will help select delegates and make proper arrangements, said J.A. Ojeda, a Trade Mission Center board member who helped to draft the agreement.
"We give the World Trade Center $25,000 to fund both missions within a year, but it will be our mission."
Gallogly said such amount was "inadequate' but both groups were committed to raising additional funds.
Some delegates are to represent the seaport, Miami International Airport and the Beacon Council, while others represent additional services needed for trading with other nations, said Ms. Herren. Then, she said, they will go to a city to brief its local World Trade Center members, manufacturing association representatives, chamber of commerce officials and economic development agents on what Miami has to offer.
"Each delegation would have seven to 10 speakers who would be accompanied by other executives interested in making contacts and promoting their own services," Mr. Ojeda said.
Mission briefing sessions would inform manufacturers about what to sell and who to sell to in leading markets in the Americas, the agreement says.
Among other topics, delegates would touch on product and market trends, product pricing, duties and tariffs, transportation and distribution, trade finance and infrastructure advantages of using the Miami-Dade seaport and airport, according to the agreement. Mr. Malina said the deal took a year to draft and approve.
Ms. Herren said the Trade Mission Center had requested proposals from other groups before joining efforts with the World Trade Center Miami but no other group answered the request.
The agreement asks the World Trade Center Miami to approve the first city to visit by March 31, delivering a best exports and markets report for that city by April 30 and completing the session in that city by Feb. 1.
Selection of the second city is due May 31, the related report by June 30, sessions by Feb. 1, 2002, and a presentation of a project summary by April 2002.
Charles Byrd, Beacon Council director of urban initiatives, said the council has visited other US cities to promote business opportunities in Miami but the trips had different goals.
"We try to attract investors," he said. "They try to attract more trade."
Mr. Byrd said the Beacon Council often sponsors business development missions to Atlanta and New York and one to Silicon Valley is under way.
Mr. Malina said all these missions are good because they meet different needs.
"Some cities that are good for investments are not good for trade," Mr. Malina said. "Our mission is to increase international trade."