Scotts entourage in Colombia also includes: David Armstrong, president of Broward College; Park Brady, CEO of the St. Joe Co., the states largest real-estate developer; former Gov. Bob Martinez, a lobbyist for Holland & Knight; Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo; PortMiami director Bill Johnson; Port Everglades CEO Steven Cernak; Paul Anderson, chief executive of the port of Jacksonville and the leading choice to be Tampas new port director; and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Having the governor there brings a certain stature to the trip, Buckhorn said. I think these countries want to know that our government, both local and state, are engaged in this.
Lahnie Johnson, president of Acoustiblok, a Tampa-based maker of soundproofing devices, hopes to open some new doors in Colombia.
When an esteemed official goes with you, the officials in the other country are bending over backwards to show they are willing to get into the game, Johnson said. Colombia is so close, and the language is not that distant from ours.
Underscoring Colombias special significance to the Miami-area economy, 71 members of the Florida traveling party are from Miami-Dade, many of them international finance executives based in Coral Gables. They include Michael Gerrity, who runs a Miami real-estate website, worldpropertychannel.com, from offices on Brickell Avenue.
He said he jumped at the chance to join the states entourage in Colombia. Gerrity, who also traveled to Brazil with Scott and Florida business leaders last year, hopes to parlay this journey into new business connections and contracts.
He sees the nation of 45 million as a lucrative trading partner because of a new free-trade agreement signed by President Barack Obama last year. The deal eliminated or eased tariffs on many U.S. exports to Colombia.
I can talk to people on the phone around the world or email them, and thats great, Gerrity said. But when you actually meet with someone face to face and talk about your needs, their needs, that leads much faster to partnerships and opportunities.
Entrepreneur David Michaels, managing director of HairMax, a Boca Raton-based hair-growth-device maker, hopes to drum up Latin American business for his product, LaserComb, an anti-baldness remedy.
We have about eight staff members dedicated to helping us with our exports, Michaels said. Were looking to bring that number up to about 15.
Herald/Times staff writers Richard Danielson and Tia Mitchell contributed to this report and information from Florida Trend magazine was used. Contact Steve Bousquet at email@example.com or (850 224-7263.