Two women looking at a laptop while working in Florida
June 29, 2018

Florida Creates First-of-its-Kind Program to Encourage Foreign Direct Investment

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 26, 2018) – Florida has launched a first-of-its-kind program to help foreign investors prepare for U.S. market entry in Florida. The Venture Bridge Florida program is a partnership between several Florida organizations, including the National Entrepreneurship Center (NEC), Enterprise Florida (EFI), the Florida Business Incubator Association, and the Association of Sister Cities of Florida.

“Florida has long been a leading destination for foreign investment and the principal U.S. gateway to Latin America,” said Manny Mencia, senior vice president of international trade and development at EFI. “This new program makes the state even more compelling to foreign investors who are looking to enter the U.S. market.”

Venture Bridge Florida is a “soft landing” program that offers a first-ever virtual training program to prepare foreign companies for U.S. market entry in the state. No other state provides virtual training for successful market entry for foreign companies. Soft landing offices are available in major cities all over the world – usually within universities, incubators or government programs. Typically, these spaces offer only basic office space with little additional services or support.

The Venture Bridge Florida program stands alone as a world-class support service ecosystem unto itself. The program will be promoted through Enterprise Florida, foreign trade offices, nearly 90 Consul General Offices, Sister Cities, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, more than 75 international chambers of commerce, and other major international outreach organizations.

Dr. Susan Amat, Founder of the Venture Bridge program said, “Supporting entrepreneurs cannot be done in a cookie-cutter fashion and current efforts to help small and medium-sized businesses with trade are limited to government programs and chamber-led trade tours, often hosting unprepared participants. Venture Bridge Florida offers a new model to de-risk U.S. market entry and scale Florida’s businesses through exporting their goods and services, creating strong international partnerships with trusted companies and regional initiatives.”

“The Venture Bridge teams are prepared in all aspects of marketing, partnerships, sales, competitive positioning, and have vetted top Florida-based service providers in legal, accounting, marketing, and tax to ensure a successful new business launch,” said Jerry Ross, Executive Director of the NEC. “Our teams will provide additional services virtually, to ensure that from the moment they arrive in Florida, international businesses will be prepared to find collaborators and customers and find a home at one of our dozens of space partners throughout the State.”

“With more than 250 Sister City relationships in Florida, we are excited to strengthen the connections between job creators all over the world with this innovative offering,” said Carolina Rendeiro, Executive Director of the Association of Sister Cities of Florida and Board Member of Sister Cities International.

Venture Bridge Florida will target proven job creating companies with $500,000-$20M in sales with a clear understanding of their customers and market opportunity. The organization is in discussions with leaders in Brazil, Florida’s No. 1 merchandise trade partner, and will next speak with representatives of countries around the world.

International trade and foreign direct investment accounted for about one-sixth of the state’s economic output last year and supports an estimated one million jobs. Florida has the highest trade surplus among all states, with total trade valued at $147.7 billion flowing through Florida’s ports last year. Florida exported more goods than 190 countries in 2017, making the state one of the world’s leaders in international trade.

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