Italians making push to boost business in South Florida
By Claudio Mendon┴a
The Italian government hopes to strengthen trade and cultural ties with the Americas by opening a business showroom and sponsoring events in Miami.
Being developed by Italy's consulate corps and the country's private enterprise, the concept would market everything the country has to sell from luxury cars and real estate to home decor and tourism.
The cornerstone of the endeavor is called Abitare, Italian for "to live."
Plans include creating a showroom for the country's companies and establishing a permanent route with buyers, distributors and vendors from all over the Americas.
The consulate is considering several sites for a showroom, including the Miami Design District.
"This is still the beginning of a long road. But our desire is to create a permanent showroom for the industry to showcase their products," said Roberto Tagliero of the Italian Trade Office.
The first step is planned for December with the monthlong Italia, Life in I Style expo in the Design District. In addition to showcasing 120 pieces manufactured in Italy, the expo will offer seminars on the country's design styles.
Italy's government and business leaders also want to penetrate the American market by immersing the Greater Miami community with cultural events.
Sponsored by the consulate, the first is to begin Sept. 23 with the art exhibition Miami Inspiration at 4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables.
During Columbus Day Week in October, the consulate plans to host the Italian Film Festival. During the same month, the consulate and the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce are bringing wine producers and representatives from VinItaly, an association of wine producers, for an exhibition at the Biltmore Hotel.
In November, the consulate is putting together Italian-language week, including presentations on books from the Italian city of Penne. The consulate has scheduled a film festival in December for children in the Miami-Dade Public School System.
One of the biggest events of the year for the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for February, when manufacturing giants such as Ferretti, Azimut and Bertran will have booths at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.
"We are interested in bridging every sector possible," said Consul General Gianfranco Colognato, based in Miami.
"Because Miami is an important place for financial and economic activity, we will be, during six months, sponsoring many Italian-related events," said Giovanni Turturiello, Italian deputy consul general.
Aside from doing business with US partners, the Italians are looking southward. Because of Miami's connections to the rest of the Americas, the Italian government wants to use South Florida to bridge the gap between Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
The Abitare project could become headquarters for Italian trade with the Caribbean as well as with Central and South America.
"It is our wish to attract Italian firms to open facilities in South Florida," said Mr. Turturiello. "We are currently assisting three such ventures in different sectors of manufacturing."