City of North Port, Port Manatee trade hub
host Chilean official, seek to boost commercial ties
NORTH PORT, Florida - The City of North Port and the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee are teaming with Chile's trade commissioner in efforts to expand commercial links.
"We look forward to realizing vast untapped potential for enhanced ties with both North Port and Port Manatee," Sacha Garafulic, Chile's Miami-based trade commissioner, said Wednesday [March 28] as he took part in a symposium and luncheon at North Port's Shannon Staub Library.
North Port Vice Mayor Linda Yates commented Wednesday, "Today is a very good day for the City of North Port as we host the trade commissioner of one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations, the country of Chile.
"We welcome Mr. Garafulic and appreciate his generous gesture to visit our growing and dynamic city located on Florida's Gulf Coast between Tampa and Fort Myers," Yates continued. "His visit signifies a new dimension of business opportunities for the North Port metropolitan area."
Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, governing board of Port Manatee, which is 55 miles northwest of North Port along Interstate 75, said she sees the trade symposium as a key step in fortifying the relationship between Port Manatee and the largest city in Sarasota County, as well as pursuit of mutually beneficial commerce.
"The International Trade Hub at Port Manatee's objective is to seek out new international markets and trade opportunities for all of Southwest Florida," Baugh said. "We are encouraged by the business opportunities presented, and we look forward to working closely with the City of North Port and Chile on further expanding our ties."
Since opening in 2014, the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee has played a vital role in expanding global connections for the port and Southwest Florida's businesses. In recent months, the hub has been visited by officials from more than a dozen nations, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Peru and Spain.
Located "Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico," Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.
Billed as "the City Where You Can Achieve Anything," North Port is home to more than 67,000 residents and spans more than 104 square miles. Undeveloped natural land and a population with a youthful mindset are hallmarks of North Port, which is one of the fastest-growing cities of Florida. North Port is ranked by MoneyRates as the No. 1 U.S. city for young entrepreneurs, by Milken Institute as the nation's sixth-best-performing large city and by Southern Business and Development as best in manufacturing in Tampa Bay.
Discussing trade opportunities at a North Port symposium are, from left: Chilean Trade Commissioner Sacha Garafulic; Ivan Mutis, coordinator of the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee; North Port Vice Mayor Linda Yates; and Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras.