Mayor Buckhorn Signs Sister Cities Agreement with the City of Lanzhou, China

Tampa, Fla. (September 22, 2016) – On Sunday,  September 18th Mayor Buckhorn joined Interim Mayor of Lanzhou, China,  Guangping Duan, and signed a historic Sister Cities agreement to foster culture, commerce and investment from the City of Tampa and the City of Lanzhou.

“This agreement strengthens Tampa’s competitiveness as an emerging player on the global stage,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Not only does this partnership help increase the potential for economic and cultural exchanges and foster collaborative innovation, it bolsters Morsani College of Medicine and USF’s relationship with the top notch institutions in Lanzhou.

“I look forward to seeing the fruits of this relationship in the coming years.”

This agreement furthers the exchange of medical knowledge between USF and Health and Family Planning Commission of Gansu Province and serves as the culmination of an eight-year relationship between the two institutions by solidifying the understanding and relationship between the two cities.

Lanzhou is our 11th sister city and the first in China.


In the photo from left to right: Deborah Wilkinson, Executive Director of Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council Linman Li, Director of Asia Programs, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida Lynette Menezes, Assistant Vice President of International Affairs, USF Health & Assistant Dean for USF Medicine International at USF Morsani College of Medicine, Alfred Goldberg, President & Founder, Absolute Mobile Solutions, John Sinnott, Chairman for the Department of Internal Medicine, Morsani College of Medicine, Deputy director, Health and Family Planning Commission of Gansu Province. Yongning Yue, Deputy Secretary General, city of Lanzhou.  Zhaocheng Huo, director, foreign affairs office, city of Lanzhou. Yujian Huo, deputy director, foreign affairs office, city of Lanzhou

Invitation To Chile Trade Mission, December 1-5

I would personally like to invite you to join  us for the Tampa Bay Trade Mission to Chile scheduled for December 1 – 5, 2014.  This mission marks the first official activity of the Tampa Bay Export Alliance,  a partnership between the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and Pinellas County Economic Development, and it’s an opportunity to show strong regional support for Copa Airlines and its non-stop service to Panama City and points beyond. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with Tampa International Airport and our regional partners, including the EDC, to win the Copa business and this  mission makes the strongest possible statement regarding community support. I will be going on the trip along with Ron Christaldi, the Chair-elect of the GTCC.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Hillsborough County Commissioner Lesley “Les” Miller, Jr. and Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel will set the bi-county tone of the initiative by leading the delegation to this vibrant Latin American country.

Our entire Hillsborough County economic development  “A” team will join us, including the EDC, Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay and Visit Tampa Bay. Pinellas County Economic Development is working to bring its partners in Pinellas County, and the Tampa Bay Partnership will join the delegation as well.  The Tampa Bay Export Alliance is partnering with Copa as the official mission carrier.  During the visit, our regional visitor bureaus will be launching an in-country marketing campaign  to drive even more tourism, business and passengers to Tampa Bay.  These missions are a perfect example of how laser focused and closely aligned we are in developing our international opportunities.

In addition to our business and political ambassadors, the EDC will have approximately 15 companies taking part in an official United States Commercial Service Gold Key Matchmaker meeting with potential partners and buyers in Chile. These companies represent some of our region’s major  employers, manufactures and exporters. These are the companies that fill our planes, use our ports and directly support our efforts to grow both.

This mission will also feature a “Doing Business in Tampa Bay” event in partnership with Select USA.  This is the opportunity for us to sell our community to potential businesses that are looking at establishing a US presence. It is important that they get the opportunity to meet some of you, the business leaders, and learn about the Tampa Bay business community.

On a recent advance trip, Lorrie Belovich, the EDC’s Director of International Business Development and Deborah Wilkinson of the Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council  met with the Embassy team, Chile Copa representatives, AmCham Chile, Trade Chile and many other partners who are very eager to welcome us and learn more about Tampa Bay.  Both the U.S. Ambassador and the Mayor of Santiago are rolling out the red carpet for our delegation.

I hope you will consider joining us and help fly the international flag of our community, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

CLICK HERE to view the mission brochure.

To register, please visit the link below:

With best regards,

Mr. Bob Rohrlack

President & CEO

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber joins coalition seeking to advance skilled worker immigration reform

Group seeks to strengthen job creation and innovation through improved access to international talent 

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce today announced its participation in “Business for Skilled Worker Immigration,” a coalition of 39 Chambers of Commerce to date, from across the country working together to advance skilled worker immigration reform as a means of driving job creation, innovation and other economic growth.  The coalition will urge Congress to address this important talent issue as part of broader-based immigration reform expected to be taken up this session.

Business for Skilled Worker Immigration represents a strong cross-section of the nation’s business community, with broad geographic diversity among its members.  With talent a key driver of the economy, coalition members seek to bring increased focus on the critical challenge of improving access to top international talent.  Combined with current programs to strengthen domestic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) training, the coalition believes its efforts can help improve long-term economic competitiveness.

The group will focus on three specific proposals designed to improve current skilled worker immigration policy:

  1. Increasing the availability of temporary, skilled worker (H-1B) visas;
  2. Increasing the availability of permanent resident visas (green cards) for STEM graduates and workers; and
  3. Creating new startup visas for immigrant entrepreneurs who launch businesses in the U.S. and meet certain employment and financing goals.

“The Chamber is committed to helping our businesses attract and retain local talent.  Many international students attend our outstanding local universities and we want to keep that talent local.  Now is the right time for immigration reform that will improve employers’ ability to access a deeper talent pool and create opportunities for more entrepreneurs to launch businesses locally and throughout the U.S.,” said Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The coalition plans to leverage the increased focus on broader-based immigration reform in Washington to advance immigration issues that are important to the business community.  The Chambers who make up Business for Skilled Worker Immigration will engage in lobbying and advocacy efforts with members of Congress and the Administration; using communications activities to raise awareness among key business and government stakeholders, and the general public; and coordination of strategy to maximize the collective impact of efforts to advance skilled worker immigration reform.

A full list of coalition members is below and available on the coalition web page, along with additional information about Business for Skilled Worker Immigration.

Business for Skilled Worker Immigration Coalition Members:

  • Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Bridgeport Regional Business Council
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • CEO Council for Growth/ Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
  • Columbus Chamber of Commerce
  • Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Fayetteville Regional Chamber
  • Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition
  • Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Louisville Inc.
  • Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
  • Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce
  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Lubbock Chamber of Commerce
  • Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Orange County Business Council
  • Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
  • Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Rockford Chamber of Commerce
  • San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
  • San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association
  • The Business Council of Fairfield County
  • Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

About the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is committed to serving our members and enhancing our community by building business success.  The Chamber provides a greater return on investment and involvement by providing innovative leadership, inside access, influential advocacy and increased opportunities. 


Trade Council Announces its Schedule of Events

The Tampa/Hillsborough International Protocol and Trade Council (Council) is pursuing its endeavors in setting up the Tampa/Hillsborough County area as a key international trade location. In association with the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa International Airport, Port of Tampa, Tampa Bay and Company, University of South Florida, and the University of Tampa, the Council continues to enhance the international protocol and trade policies to benefit local businesses with the goal of establishing the Tampa/Hillsborough County area as a strong competitor in the global marketplace.

Deborah Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Council stated, “Tampa has become a region that is reflecting its strong international expertise.  With the new hire of a Port Director, an aggressive Airport plan for recruiting new airlines to the Tampa Bay area, a strong economic development organization concentrating on foreign direct investment, two Universities that have strength in their business curriculums, a well-known organization concentrating on international visitors to the area and an established Chamber that has top leadership that understands international and a regional economic development organization that is at the helm in developing an export strategy, we can’t go wrong.”

The Tampa Bay Consular Corps’ interaction with the Tampa/Hillsborough County community has enabled the Council to roll out a 2013 event calendar for many purposes such as providing existing businesses with educational forums and promoting export and import opportunities for the Tampa/Hillsborough County area. The Council’s upcoming events to date are as follows:

  • 2013 Quarterly Consular Corps events – Consular Corps receptions and visits from others outside Tampa Bay – February 26; May; August; November
  • Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day – Over 390 people and 17 Consulates present at the first Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • Association of American Chamber Latin America (AACL) event
  • Mayor of Oveida, Spain
  • 2013 Military Appreciation Banquet – February 27, 2013
  • International Business Summit – March 28, 2013
  • International Days – Florida Chamber – April 2-4, 2013
  • SEUS Florida Japan Summit – June 6-7, 2013
  • SEUS South Korea – September 2013
  • La Harvre, France – October 9-10, 2013
  • SEUS Mississippi – Inbound from Japan Conference – November 17-19, 2013
  • Colombia – Barranquilla – late November/early December, 2013
  • Company Recruitment for trips to Chile (May) and South Korea (October)

For specific information or newsletter subscriptions regarding our events and/or the Council, please contact the Tampa/Hillsborough International Protocol  and Trade Council at or  at 201 N. Franklin St., Ste. 201, Tampa, FL 33602-5846, telephone: (813) 228-7777 – fax: (813) 221-6095.

Chamber Introduces New Direction for Tampa’s Protocol and Trade Policy

With the addition of Deborah Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Tampa/Hillsborough International Protocol and Trade Council, the Chamber, part of the Council is in the process of rolling out a new direction for Tampa’s Protocol and Trade Policy. In Ms. Wilkinson’s new role at the Council, she will lead the international protocol and existing business trade activities for Tampa and Hillsborough County under the direction of the Executive Committee of the Council. The new direction for the International Trade Desk not only includes the traditional functions of protocol, but coordinating educational forums and export readiness workshops for existing businesses as well as being involved in developing policies for countries the Council will explore. This new endeavor will also expand and update the 2004 Trade policy that was approved by the Executive Committee of the Council.

“With a new Port Director and an active and engaged Airport President and CEO, now is the time for us to embrace the culture and diversity of our community by expanding upon our international trade opportunities,” said Bob Rohrlack, President and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. “In addition to working with the Port and Airport, we will continue our efforts in collaboration with the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay & Company, the University of South Florida and University of Tampa and work in partnership with the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and Tampa Bay Consular Corps to spotlight Tampa as a key international trade location. This continues and strengthens the international focus in our Chamber as our membership will be involved in identifying those companies throughout the County that need trade assistance.”

An important aspect of the Trade Desk’s function is to work with members of the Tampa Bay Consular Corps with their interaction with the Tampa/Hillsborough County community and facilitate positive business interactions. The Dean of the Consular Corps, Mr. Arthur Savage who is also the President of A R Savage & Son has a strong grasp on the need for trade policy and assistance and will work with the Executive Director and the Executive Committee in combining the cultural and business community to promote Tampa Hillsborough as a strong competitor in the global marketplace. Many of the Consuls in the region will reach out to their constituency to bring more business and grow existing business in trade. In addition to working with the Consular Corps and the countries they represent, participating in foreign trade missions with the State of Florida is vital to promoting export and import opportunities with the Tampa/Hillsborough County area.

Over the next few months, the Chamber will continue to develop the structure of Tampa’s trade policy. Wilkinson developed and implemented a Global Business Development Strategy while with Broward County and Washington State, as a means of providing structure to international trade efforts and coordination for all organizations involved in trade activity. A similar effort is underway under the auspices of the Executive Committee of the Council.