Beacon Council's Brazil action plan may target nation's smaller markets
By Zachary Fagenson
In about two months the Beacon Council hopes to have a plan in hand outlining how Miami-Dade County and its businesses can best capitalize on the seemingly ever-expanding opportunities in Brazil.
It's a follow-up to the daylong Brazil Business Development Strategy Conference the economic development agency hosted that drew more than 100 to its Southwest Eighth Street offices to learn about the latest developments in Latin America's largest economy and the opportunities and challenges surrounding it.
"We sent out a questionnaire and we're getting comments and suggestions in," said Beacon Council President and CEO Frank Nero. "We're working on a draft that will then go out to the participants for comment, and after that we'll publish it with a game plan."
The conference brought out everyone from Brazilian Consul General Ambassador Luiz de Araujo Castro to Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the University of Miami's Center for Hemispheric Policy, to Odebrecht USA President and CEO Gilberto Neves.
"Most of [the suggestions are] just people saying "this is a great idea, let's get going,'" Mr. Nero said pointedly, but "once we collect all of these — they're still coming in, quite frankly — and distill them into a white paper, we'll start to see some themes arise."
At first glance it seems the plan will include promoting economic relationships with some of Brazil's smaller cities, though smaller is only a matter of perspective.
"All too often people have a tendency to concentrate on São Paulo," Mr. Nero said of Brazil's largest city. "Many of these submarkets [have] millions of people."
One possible opportunity is Manaus, situated in Northwestern Brazil with a population of about 2 million.
It's "very significant," he added. "They have a free trade zone there."
Getting Brazil on the US visa waiver program, which allows citizens of both countries to travel back and forth without having to apply for a visa, would also be a boon to economic ties, though there are significant challenges.
As the agency's staff continues digesting the content of daylong conference and attendees' feedback, they'll also start considering which suggestions need some dollar power behind them.
"We hope to be able to implement at least as many of the recommendations as we can in our program plans and budget in the next fiscal year," Mr. Nero said.
In order to do that, plans need to be set by June or July, when the budget is set.
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