Tampa Companies Plan Business Mission To Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland companies are to be assisted by Invest NI to develop business in Tampa Bay, Florida later in the year. Invest NI has teamed up with a Tampa business leader to assist a trade mission from the city to Northern Ireland.

Co-ordinating the initiative in the Florida city is Arthur Porter, the Belfast-born publisher of the influential Tampa Bay Business Journal. Invest NI will help by arranging for Northern Ireland companies to have one-to-one meetings with Tampa businesses. Mr Porter was in Belfast earlier in the month to prepare for the mission, which is scheduled for October.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, said: “We are keen to build links with US centres as part of our strategic focus on initiatives to help many more companies to develop business in Northern Ireland’s most important and successful export market.

“Over the past few years we’ve established business relationships with a number of US business centres including New York, Boston, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago. To date, our trade activities in Florida have tended to focus on exhibitions associated with the cruise industry but this alliance will provide a platform for local business to target a broad range of companies in Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America,” he adds.

Mr Porter said: “Our intention is start a networking process that will enable businesspeople from Northern Ireland and Tampa Bay to help each other and grow their businesses. It definitely won’t be a flag waving, hand-shaking type of trade mission, involving a lot of hot air and no real outcome. This will be all about doing deals.  

“We will be inviting Northern Ireland companies to come to Florida and will help them to find real business. It will have the full support of the Mayor of Tampa Bay and the business community throughout the city.

“The visit follows a similar mission to Manchester last November and a return visit to Tampa by a group of companies from the Lancashire business centre and we would like to see the Northern Ireland companies becoming a part of the relationship we are currently developing with Manchester,” he added.

Tampa Bay has a population of around four million and has clusters of successful companies in biotechnology, financial services, creative industries and scientific research.