COVID-19 shut trade shows down, closing off one of small businesses’ largest marketing and networking channels. Even so, the shows have gone on – albeit virtually. One small business owner told me this week he was supposed to be at his industry’s largest trade show but instead he is on and off Zoom all day long with potential buyers attending the show online this year.
So perhaps it’s no surprise but now it is official: The State of Florida’s largest international trade show is going virtual too for 2021.
Enterprise Florida, the state’s business-recruitment agency, announced this week the Florida International Trade Expo is going virtual. The annual showcase and matchmaker of leading Florida export products and services will take place over three days from March 16 to March 18, 2021, and Florida is the first U.S. state to organize such a virtual trade event.
International trade is one of the state’s most important sectors, with commodity exports of $56 billion in 2019 making Florida the seventh-largest export state in the country. An additional $43 billion in exports of services worldwide ranked the state fourth in the U.S. What’s more Florida is home to one in five U.S. exporters, and 96 percent of Florida exporters are small or medium-sized enterprises with 500 or fewer employees. In May, the agency announced the Virtual Business Matchmaking program will allow the state’s business community to reach new and existing customers overseas and keep moving forward, and shortly after that, it announced a Virtual Trade Show Grants Program.
This global virtual trade fair will connect Florida small and medium-sized companies directly with a targeted worldwide business audience of foreign companies interested in their products and services, Enterprise Florida said. Registration will open Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, for Florida companies to secure their spot at the show.
“Earlier this year we announced the new virtual trade show and business matchmaking grant programs,” Enterprise Florida President and CEO Jamal Sowell said in a statement. “Launching the Florida International Trade Expo is the next step in making sure the state’s small businesses continue to recover and grow.”
Enterprise Florida is targeting 100 Florida exhibitors and 5,000 total attendees from around the world over the course of the three-day event. Industries will include aviation and aerospace, life sciences, information technology, financial and professional services, and manufacturing. Visitors will include pre-screened and registered visitors/buyers, exhibitors and media. Partners supporting the event will include the U.S. Commercial Service, EFI’s international offices and several trade and industry associations.
The Expo will use virtual, thematic event technology, including multiple exhibition halls based on industry; a networking lounge; and a matchmaking system to facilitate virtual meetings between exhibitors and international visitors.
The cost for exhibitors is $1,060, and Enterprise Florida will be offering reimbursable trade show grants to qualified companies to cover the costs. The show will be free to registered visitors. For more information, contact Alejandra Henao, Director – International Trade, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in reading more about growth strategy and international trade? You’ve come to the right blog.
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