Gov. Rick Scott has his bags packed, ready to jet to Chile Tuesday on what will be his eighth trade mission since taking office in 2011.
The trip will be his second to South America. The last time a Florida governor visited Chile was in 2007.
Scott wont be a party of one in Chile. More than 100 representatives from Florida businesses, higher education institutions and other organizations will tag along on the three-day trip. According to a press release from the governors office, the group will be working to expand investments with Chile and create job opportunities for Florida families.
As Floridas economy continues to grow, trade missions are an important way to strengthen the states presence in the global market, Scott said. I look forward to leading a trade delegation to Chile as we work to make Florida the No. 1 state to live, work and raise a family.
Another goal of the trip is to attract more Chilean cargo to come through Florida ports. Several of the state's ports serve as destinations for Chilean imports, such as copper and salmon.
The total value of international trade -- including imports and exports -- from the Sunshine States ports was more than $85 billion in 2012 alone. Around 550,000 jobs have also been created as a result of maritime cargo activities at Florida's ports.
Chilean-Americans are the fifth smallest Hispanic group in the United States, but many have made their home in Florida. The state has the second largest population of Chilean-Americans -- only California's is larger.
More than 17,000 Chileans reside in Miami alone.
Florida, and especially South Florida, is a natural market for any Latin American country, Carlos Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board member told The Miami Herald.
Curbelo, who has already filed to challenge Democrat Joe Garcia in 2014 for his congressional seat, will be heading to Chile as well, but at his own expense as a public relations consultant.
We have the transportation and infrastructure and then theres the language. Everyone from South America feels comfortable here. Its a natural fit.
Reach Tampa-based Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com.