Contact:  Brent Barkway
Pinellas County Economic Development
(727) 464-7411 or

Global Tampa Bay sales mission to Panama yields more than
$7 million in expected sales revenue for local companies

Pinellas County, Fla. (April 19, 2019) -  Global Tampa Bay announced today that the participating companies in last month's export sales mission to Panama have projected future sales and economic activity of $7.35 million as a result of the trip. 

Nine companies from the Tampa Bay region participated in the export sales mission to the Latin American country, which is one of Florida's largest merchandise export markets. The local companies participated in the U.S. Commercial Service's Gold Key Service (GKS) Matchmaker program, which provided customized one-on-one meetings with companies in Panama. These Gold Key companies conducted 41 meetings with potential customers that resulted in the expected export sales.

The sales mission to Panama generated new opportunities for trade mission veteran Tampa Armature Works, Inc. (TAW), an industrial equipment and power distribution and services company that has been headquartered in Hillsborough County for more than 95 years.

"The trade mission exceeded my expectations and I look forward to future export trips to Central America as it is a key market for our company," said Jorge Diaz Lugo, international sales manager of TAW. "The selection of prospective customer meetings was right on target with our company's core competencies. I also made great connections and identified other business opportunities through meetings with executives from the Panama Canal and local utility companies."

In addition to the one-on-one Gold Key meetings, participants also attended a welcome reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy to Panama. More than a dozen delegates, including county commissioners and local business leaders, also participated in the trip and attended meetings and events, including a "Doing Business in Panama Seminar" that was organized by the Panama-American Chamber of Commerce, a tour of the City of Knowledge and USF Health Panama, and a presentation by Copa Airlines. The delegates and Gold Key company representatives also travelled to Colon, Panama where they visited Logistics Services Panama, the Manzanillo International Terminal and Agua Clara Locks (Panama Canal Expansion).

The export sales mission to Panama, which took place March 18-21, was made possible through a partnership with Enterprise Florida, the state's public-private economic development organization. Participating small and medium-sized companies were able to apply for Enterprise Florida's Gold Key grant to help ease the cost of attending the trip and not miss out on these valuable meetings.

"The costs and time involved with exporting is substantial for a company of our size. Without Global Tampa Bay making the arrangements and the EFI Gold Key grant, we wouldn't be able to pursue it," said Aydin Bilgutay, Vice President of International Sales at Infinium Medical, a medical equipment manufacturer based in Largo, Fla. "The visit was a great opportunity to visit potential distributors and discuss their capabilities."

Plans for the next export sales mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil the week of August 12 are already in the works. Several participants have already expressed interest in attending future business visits to Central and Latin America. Among them are Jim Howell, president of Perky's Pizza, a wholesale food and kitchen distributor, focused on pizza-centric ingredients and equipment for small businesses around the world.

"These sales missions are important to my company because as a small business, I simply cannot get the face-to-face time with potential international customers otherwise," said Howell. "The commercial services team does an outstanding job setting up the meetings, and now it's up to my team and me to turn these opportunities into more sales."

For more information about Global Tampa Bay and export sales missions, interested companies can  contact Brent Barkway at

Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED)  offers customized assistance for export planning and can serve as a single point of contact for international business programs available at the federal, state and local levels. We provide assistance with trade mission planning, including Gold Key matchmaking events, international marketing plans, and international trade show grants. 

Global Tampa Bay is a cooperative effort between Pinellas County Economic Development, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and the Pasco Economic Development Council, established to help existing Tampa Bay companies to expand their sales in international markets and to assist foreign companies interested in establishing operations in the Tampa Bay region. Global Tampa Bay conducts joint export activities, such as seminars, trade events and trade missions, and supports the export-related growth initiatives of regional economic partners, including Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay. 


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