Connecting to Colombia



As the relationship between the United States and some Latin American nations improves, Jorge Chacón, founder of International Jorolco Ventures, hopes opportunities for business in Southwest Florida arise. The Sarasota businessman right now is organizing a trade mission to Colombia, optimistic that improvements in industry and tourism there could mean a chance for trade and profits here.

“The face of that country has changed in many ways,” Chacón said. Enough so that the U.S. government last year signed a new trade agreement, and more businesses are working with American companies again. “A lot of products are going back and forth, and people in the manufacturing industry want to expand their portfolio of clients here.”

Jorolco and its subsidiary International Business Alliance will lead a trade mission scheduled July 5 through 15. Chacón hopes to turn the event into an annual sojourn. For this first trip, he wants to find around 30 business leaders in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The trip will include visits to capitol city Bogotá, industrial hub Medellín, coffee-rich Pereira and tourism hotbed Cartagena de Indias. Chacón says now is an important time for improved relations with Colombia, as improvements to Port Manatee have improved shipping avenues tremendously, and when a widening of the Panama Canal is completed next year, even more of Colombia will be easily accessible by boat. Already, new maga-tanker routes have been announced. 

And Chacón also wants to make sure trade missions move both directions. The Pasaporte USA event (the name translates from Spanish to “Passport to the USA”) has been scheduled Oct. 3-11 in Sarasota, and he plans to bring leaders from Colombian chambers of commerce here to connect with manufacturers headquartered this side of the Gulf of Mexico.

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