Going global with the Bradenton area brand

February 3, 2014 

As employees at the new Air Products manufacturing facility near Port Manatee greeted Gov. Rick Scott and Bradenton area guests earlier this month at the facility dedication ceremony, I couldn't help noticing the logo on their shirts. The words "Port Manatee" were boldly embroidered beneath the logo for the Fortune 300 company.

Like most international businesses with numerous locations, Air Products uses local place names to differentiate its facilities. Now, when Air Products talks about its newest manufacturing facility, "Port Manatee" will be part of the conversation with the company's customers, prospects and suppliers.

How's that for global marketing? It's the kind of "product placement" we couldn't hope to buy, placing Port Manatee -- one of the Bradenton area's key business location assets -- on the global map.

Likewise, the major international sporting events coming to the Bradenton-Sarasota area help brand the region as a home for sports performance and related businesses.

Earlier this month, Shiny Fang, secretary general of the Union International de Pentathlon Moderne, the international governing body for the Olympic sport of Modern Pentathlon, visited Bradenton-Sarasota to review the community in advance of four major Pentathlon events the region will host during the next three years, including three World Cup competitions and the Olympic Trials.

"We selected Sarasota-Bradenton based on several strengths, including the broad degree of community involvement its bid conveyed," Fang told the media. "Hosting the first Pentathlon World Cup Final in the United States in more than 40 years is no minor effort -- and I am impressed and excited by the enthusiastic community support I have seen during the last two days. The Sarasota-Bradenton facilities and community will also provide an ideal environment to debut the international Royal Pentathlon Club."

In addition to the Modern Pentathlon events, Bradenton-Sarasota will host the World Rowing Championships at Benderson Park, while other events with national and international prominence are coming to that facility as well as IMG Academy. You can read more about these exciting developments on the Key Industries/Sports Performance page at www.ThinkBradentonArea.com.

From an economic development perspective, the jobs, capital investment and tourism spending that are associated with the likes of Air Products and major sporting events are a great boon to the region. From a wider perspective, these "wins" for our community also expand our marketing reach for the Bradenton area's message as a global destination for growing businesses.

These projects prove the community's viability as a business location and create a ripple effect across the global business landscape, drawing more attention to the area as a business location -- not solely a tourism destination.

Once we have that attention, though, we have to deliver on the factors that businesses need to succeed. That requires collaboration among a host of players involved in spreading the word about our community and facilitating all of the details that go into a corporate location decision.

At the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp., we continue to forge strong partnerships between those key players in economic development, tourism marketing, private sector businesses, government, education, workforce entities and more.

If it sounds complicated, it is. Such an intricate network of participants requires constant communication, mutual trust and a shared vision for what our community and its economy can become.

Our combined efforts are paying off: From CEOs of global manufacturing businesses to organizers of international sporting events, the world is getting to know the Bradenton area, and it likes what it sees.

Sharon Hillstrom, president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp., may be contacted at info@thinkbradentonarea.com or 748-4842, ext. 128.

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