Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Central Florida International Trade Office (CFITO) and its growing role of assisting regional entrepreneurs and businesses with international commerce opportunities.
“It’s important to look back on what our community and business partners have accomplished,” Mayor Teresa Jacobs said. “By working together, we have helped propel economic opportunity for international entrepreneurs and companies looking to do business in Orange County.”
CFITO was launched as a pilot program in 2014 in response to local companies looking for exporting opportunities. The Office also helps streamline the process for foreign investors to connect and partner with regional businesses and establish local operations. CFITO is funded by Orange County with a dollar-per-dollar match from JP Morgan Chase and is located at the National Entrepreneur Center (NEC).
“The response to the pilot program has been overwhelming,” Jerry Ross, executive director of the NEC, said. “CFITO is providing a unique service and our businesses are thriving thanks to the investment made by Orange County and JP Morgan Chase.”
During its first year of operations, more than 1,200 consultations took place at CFITO through direct inquiries and educational events. A regional database of more than 5,600 companies interested in doing business with the region was created. The database captures the company’s country of origin, the commodity traded by the organization, and the primary U.S. port used for transporting goods.
The CFITO hosted eight educational events that brought in a total of 440 attendees to its office. CFITO has also participated in more than 25 international trade promotion events, including four inbound international delegations from Colombia, China, Brazil and Turkey. Additionally, CFITO established the Friends of International Trade group, registering about 400 members in its database.
“Working together with the NEC, the international trade office helps businesses become export ready and introduces international buyers to what Central Florida has to offer,” Ross said.
During her remarks at the event, Mayor Jacobs thanked JP Morgan Chase for its partnership and Elizabeth Krekel, CFITO program coordinator, for her efforts in creating a central point for connecting the global trading community to Central Florida. Orange County has authorized funding for a second year and JPMorgan is also extending its support.
The CFITO is located at Orlando Fashion Square at the NEC facility, which was created in 2003 jointly by Orange County, the University of Central Florida and The Walt Disney Co. The center is funded exclusively by local corporate, education and municipal sponsorships, and is home to 11 nonprofit organizations that provide training, coaching and a variety of business resources to regional entrepreneurs and small businesses.
A collection of photos from the Central Florida International Trade anniversary event is available for use by the media and are located on Flickr.