Deals, US footholds sought in visit by 25 Spanish aviation, energy firms
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Economic development officials hope to coax some of 25 Spanish energy and aviation firms set to visit South Florida this month to partner with local firms or set up US operations here.
The trip, organized by PromoMadrid, a nonprofit development agency for the state of Madrid, is being supported locally by Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, as well as the Beacon Council.
The April 26-29 trip kicks off with a welcome breakfast at the Beacon Council's offices followed by an economic briefing on Miami-Dade County, said Ivan Barrios, Enterprise Florida vice president of trade development services.
Most of the visiting companies are in the energy sector. They'll be joined by seven aerospace and aeronautics firms and one robotic engineering company.
Representatives from Madrid will also discuss Spain's clean energy sector, a major focus of the trip. After that, "we're going to turn around and give them an overview of clean technology in Florida," Mr. Barrios said.
Companies here will also give the Spanish firms their update of clean technology in South Florida.
We're "going to talk about opportunities here in South Florida for solar technology and then we're going to give a presentation on federal stimulus dollars for clean technology," Mr. Barrios said. "We're basically doing the same thing for aviation and aerospace."
The tentative schedule includes visits to clean technology and aviation companies, one-on-one meetings with Florida companies and a handful of networking events.
And while Spain's economy still suffers from the highest unemployment in the euro zone due to its construction industry's collapse, now may be the perfect time for Spanish companies to consider expanding to the US and Latin America.
"I think what you're seeing more is that even though the Euro is up, their buying power over there is gone," said Carolina Rendeiro, Right Space Management CEO and chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's International Business Development group. "You can have a high currency but you're still stuck in that rut because… the people coming in and dumping money aren't anymore."
Spain's unemployment of 19% nearly doubles the 10% throughout the euro zone, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
And though Ms. Rendeiro said she expects the visiting companies to equally consider developing strategic partnerships with Miami-based firms and relocating here to access both North and South American markets, another reason for expanding to the US is for a buffer against future recessions.
"For some companies it's a great opportunity," she said. "You have companies that have been established for a long time, weathered the storm and are wondering do they want to chance another storm later down the line."
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