Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Red Carpet for Foreign Companies

Jennifer Conoley
President and CEO / Florida’s Great Northwest

Diversification: “Pursuing foreign direct investment is a very important strategy in our efforts to attract new industries and diversify our economy here in Northwest Florida. If you’re just concentrating on U.S. companies, you are competing against every other city and county economic development agency. And while that competition is fine, and we will always continue to do that, when you open it up to a worldview perspective, it really allows us to attract additional foreign capital investment that creates good, high-paying jobs.”

Highlights: “ST Engineering in Pensacola is a perfect example of the kind of foreign direct investment that we’re going after here in Northwest Florida. They have two large aircraft maintenance and overhaul hangars at Pensacola International Airport and are in the process of building two more hangars. Another example of our successes in attracting aerospace FDI (foreign direct investment) is the Leonardo helicopter and aviation maintenance facility in operation at Whiting Aviation Park adjacent to Naval Air Station Whiting Field.”

Trade: “Our overall FDI strategy also includes the two international ports in Northwest Florida: Port Panama City and Port of Pensacola. We have been developing trade strategies and are in discussions with several shipping lines to create direct routes to Mexico. We’re taking delegations to cities like Merida and meeting with executives to figure out what products are being manufactured there and are there opportunities for these companies to expand their operations here in Northwest Florida. Currently, we're doing a lot of leveraging of the relationships we’ve developed in Mexico.”

Preparation: “The rapid development and expansion of our industrial parks along I-10 is another important element of our FDI strategy that we definitely showcase and get a lot of questions about from site selectors. Most of them are surprised to see the amount of forethought, planning and capital investment our Northwest Florida community leaders have put into these industrial parks that help our region thrive and grow.”