MANATEE -- Port Manatee is a finalist for a new manufacturing facility for high performance sports cars that sell for as much as $1 million, as a Spanish automaker prepares to enter the U.S. market.
Headquartered in Figueres, Spain, near Barcelona, A.D. Tramontana manufactures "highly customized cars with Formula 1 racer parts and a design reminiscent of a jet fighter," according to a news release from the port. The cars are now available only in Europe and Asia.
According to Ivan Mutis, chief executive officer of GM&L Strategic Consulting for New Markets, Florida is the ideal place to showcase A.D. Tramontana's highly customized cars. Port Manatee is competing with other industrial areas in Manatee, Sarasota and Broward counties, according to the news release.
"We chose Florida because Florida is a place where more people are buying these super cars," Mutis said.
Company officials have been in discussions with Port Manatee officials since April, when delegates from Mataró, Spain, met with area business and economic development leaders about eco
nomic opportunities in Manatee County. They expect to make a decision by October, Mutis said.
Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee executive director, was working in Brazil on Thursday, but said in a press release: "I'm very encouraged that A.D. Tramontana is considering building their first U.S. facility in Manatee County. As the largest foreign investor in Florida, Spain remains a high priority for our region to attract new business."
Buqueras said the company could take advantage of Port Manatee's foreign trade zone as it offers importers, exporters and manufacturers the ability to defer, reduce or eliminate duties on goods and minimizes U.S. Customs requirements.
Mutis said the manufacturer is targeting areas where their cars would be popular.
His research shows that for the past two years, the number of high-end cars sold in Florida matches that of England.
"It shows that people in Florida have enough money to buy these cars," Mutis said.
A.D. Tramontana's high-performance sports cars are priced between $800,000 and $1 million.
The race cars are hand-crafted and customized individually for each buyer. Formula 1 race car parts and a powerful V-12 engine makes these cars unique.
"What Tramontana produces is world known -- they are in the segment of top super cars," Mutis said.
Now that the company has decided on Florida for its destination, the next step is figuring out exactly where.
The Port of Manatee offers attractive options for manufacturing these high-level cars. According to Mutis, Manatee has the industrial networks to deliver these explosive "super cars."
"The Port of Manatee will be a closer way to connect to the Panama Canal to go to South America," Mutis said.
The 5,000 acres of undeveloped land available for development outside the Port's gates also prompted the company to seriously consider Manatee County.
"I think Port Manatee is a great manufacturing area for any company," said Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. "If you consider getting in and out of a port quickly, Port of Manatee definitely supports that."
Hillstrom also cited the area's available work force and the amount of available property close to a deepwater source as advantages.
But competition is expected to be fierce. A 2013 Tramontana is now on display at an exotic car dealer in Broward County.
But Hillstrom believes the visit from the Spain delegation helped highlight the local attributes.
"We have a work force and also a property that can accommodate what they have," Hillstrom said.
Hillstrom saw the same benefits as Mutis in terms of Port Manatee's location advantages.
"The other thing that's important about Port Manatee is that it is the closet deep port in United States to the Panama Canal," Hillstrom said.
A.D. Tramontana plans to produce up 100 pro solo cars each year, according to Mutis.
The most important Lamborghini dealer is in Florida and the amount of wealth in the state attracted the company, Mutis said.
The difficult decision now though is to choose between its targeted counties.
"It's not an open competition -- we are just making a professional evaluation," Mutis said. "We are considering Broward County and Manatee County."