Foreign investment initiative makes it easier for companies to open in Lee County, Florida

Florida launched a first-of-its-kind program to bring foreign investors into the state. Venture Bridge Florida, the name of the program, will help local economic development efforts by improving services offered to foreign investors and companies.

The initiative is a “soft landing” program that offers virtual training programs to prepare foreign companies for entry into the U.S. market within Florida. No other state offers such a program, according to Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm. Instead, cities across the nation have “soft landing” offices usually located within universities, incubators or government programs and don’t include as much support to prospective companies.

The initiative targets companies with $500,000 to $20 million in sales. International trade and foreign investment accounts for about one-sixth of the state’s economic output, according to data last year. Total Florida trade is valued at $147.7 billion, according to Enterprise Florida.

“Increasing international trade and foreign direct investment is vital to the growth of our region’s economy. Venture Bridge Florida will allow us to improve the service we provide international projects, which can sometimes require different timelines, scopes and needs than a traditional domestic relocation or expansion project,” said Steve Morey, vice president of business development for the Tampa Hillsborough EDC. “With the addition of this program, we’ll be able to provide a soft landing for international companies, so they have the specific tools and resources they need to succeed in Florida.”

Already underway, Venture Bridge Florida is in talks with economic leaders in Brazil, Florida’s top merchandise trade partner. In the coming weeks and months the group will engage with nearly 90 consul general offices, sister cities, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, more than 75 international chambers of commerce and other international outreach organizations.

“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 National Entrepreneurship Center. “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.”

Venture Bridge Florida is a partnership between several state groups including the National Entrepreneurship Center, Enterprise Florida, the Florida Business Incubator Association and the Association of Sister Cities of Florida.

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,” said initiative founder Susan Amat.  

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