CFITOInternational Trade just got easier for small businesses in our region!  The National Entrepreneur Center of Orlando now includes the Central Florida International Trade Office (CFITO).  Funded through a partnership between Orange County Government and JPMorgan Chase, this office provides assistance to local businesses interested in pursuing international trade.

While many organizations throughout Central Florida provide trade assistance, it can be difficult and confusing to locate the organization or service that is right for you.  The US Export Assistance Center provides a variety of services for established companies who are “export ready.”  The UCF Small Business Development Center—in conjunction with Enterprise Florida—offers a low-cost export marketing plan for established companies who are considering export as part of their business strategy. Also located at the National Entrepreneur Center are the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and The Asian-American Chamber of Commerce which provide visiting delegations with a variety of connections to our region and hospitality unmatched by other regions.

Importing companies historically have fewer options for assistance. However, importer’s critical role in Central Florida’s dynamic international trade economy is being recognized.  Port Canaveral is increasing container cargo capabilities, and already provides dock refrigeration to cater to importers and exporters. Inquiries are also underway to gather information on our region’s free trade zone and to identify which opportunities an active-free trade zone might provide importers throughout our region.

With an outstanding airport, two seaports, the widening of the Panama Canal, and the new free trade agreements, Central Florida’s position allows for another outstanding hub for International Trade in the State of Florida.  Since Orlando is already established as a leading international travel destination, it is logical for Central Florida to leverage that experience and brand recognition into the business of international cargo.  The CFITO provides a way to connect small businesses that have the capacity and persistence to engage in international trade.  It is not for the struggling start-up, but it makes sense for a business looking to expand.

A local import/export database is being compiled to identify local import and export businesses, which will provide connections and identify potential partnerships.  Importers and exporters attended the first “Friends of International Trade” event held last month! I even attended an international “food tasting” conducted at the NEC for a delegation of food purchasers from China.  Lots of good things continue to happen in just the first few months of this endeavor.  If you would like to attend an event, get listed in the trade database, or just learn more about international trade, you can connect with the CFITO by email at [email protected]

Until Next Time…


Jerry Ross

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