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OPIC Seminar for Florida Small Businesses Draws More Than 170

October 26, 2011

MIAMI, Florida  – A workshop for Florida small businesses organized by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, drew more than 170 participants from ten states today, educating business owners about how OPIC products can help them take advantage of lucrative investment opportunities in emerging markets.

The Expanding Horizons workshop, held at the Hilton Miami Airport, was the latest in a highly successful series that has educated more than 1,300 small and medium-sized business owners across the United States about OPIC products and services. Participants came from ten states and three countries: Haiti, Panama and the United Arab Emirates.

“Small businesses are the essential engine of the American economy, generating two-thirds of U.S. jobs and roughly half of our GDP – yet they depend on the same opportunities to succeed as others. OPIC is uniquely positioned to enable Florida SMEs to make the most of investment opportunities in high-growth emerging markets – and business owners certainly took full advantage of that today,” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield. “We were extremely pleased by the large turnout.”

In a videotaped introduction, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said participants “will have the opportunity to interact with the experts that can expand your business overseas and benefit right here at home. OPIC success can be your success.”

OPIC speakers outlined the innovative financial tools – among them financing and political risk insurance – that the agency has used for 40 years to help U.S. businesses successfully invest in emerging markets.  In addition, the seminar featured a special session on OPIC support for renewable energy and clean energy technology projects, a priority for the agency.  Participants also benefited from networking sessions and opportunities to meet one-on-one with government officials.

The keynote speaker was Antonio Villamil, Principal Advisor to the Washington Economic Group, Inc., a Florida-based economic and business consulting service, and Dean of the School of Business at St. Thomas University in Miami.

Other speakers included Ralph MacNamara, Vice Chair of the Florida District Export Council and Chair of the South Florida District Export Council; Leila Afas, Director of Export Promotion for the U.S. Trade & Development Agency; Marie Gill, Executive Director of the Minority Business Development Association’s Business Center in Florida; Mary Hernandez, Regional Manager of the U.S. Small Business Administration; Sharyn Koenig, Director of the Southeast Regional Office of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S.; and Eduardo Torres, Director of the South Florida U.S. Export Assistance Center; as well as senior OPIC staff members.

Organizations supporting the seminar were The Beacon Council, Enterprise Florida, Inc., Florida Small Business Development Center Network, Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, The Office of Economic and Small Business Development in Broward County, and The Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) in Miami-Dade County.

Since 2006, OPIC has held Expanding Horizons workshops in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Houston, San Francisco, Boston, St. Louis, Denver, Philadelphia, and Orange, California.