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Florida officials in Britain


PANAMA CITY — Floridians have descended on London.

Gov. Rick Scott has brought an 85-member entourage to Great Britain in an attempt to lure an aerospace company to Florida, according to Enterprise Florida. The contingent that traveled to the Farnborough International Air Show includes Bay County Economic Alliance Executive Director Neal Wade.

“The Florida delegation is very active in pursuing aerospace projects, especially in light of last week’s Airbus announcement,” Wade said when reached via telephone Tuesday.

Airbus announced it will establish a manufacturing facility to assemble and deliver A320 Family aircraft at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala.

Enterprise Florida’s Stuart Doyle said Florida has been sending a contingent to Farnborough since 2006 in an attempt to lure new business to the state. Others in the contingent are required to pay a $1,000 fee for helping Enterprise Florida organize the trip.

“We pick up the tab for the governor and the first lady,” Doyle said.

Members of the contingency also have been meeting with company CEOs and representatives to talk about bringing business to the state.

Wade said the group has been meeting with aerospace officials. He said he is targeting a new company to locate near the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP).

“We have three significant aerospace projects already looking at West Bay,” Wade said.

It was just last fall that Scott and local dignitaries broke ground for the new ITT Exelis’ 105,000-square-foot facility at the VentureCrossing Enterprise Centre near the airport. St. Joe Co. is developing the 75,000-acre mixed use development that will include office, industrial, manufacturing, hotel, retail and residential uses.

The mission to London isn’t the first for the governor.

“He’s done some to Brazil and to Spain,” said Lane Wright, spokesman for the governor’s office. “He’s been selling Florida to businesses to either relocate here or expand offices here.”

Florida is home to 12 aviation military installations, three spaceports and notable academic institutions that offer advanced degrees related to aviation and aerospace. The industry also comprises about 2,000 companies and 83,000 employees, positioning Florida as the nation’s number two state for aviation, aerospace and space establishments, according to Enterprise Florida.

The United Kingdom and Florida have significant trade and investment links as the world’s seventh and 20th largest economies, respectively, according to the governor’s office. The U.K. is Florida’s largest foreign direct investor, employing more than 39,100 Floridians, and Florida is the largest long-haul destination for U.K. nationals, with 1.3 million U.K. tourists visiting Florida every year, Scott noted.

Besides Florida, other states sending delegations included Oklahoma, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Maine and California, Enterprise Florida confirmed.

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