Pinellas County’s International Business Development Efforts Attract Australian Delegation to Explore Trade Opportunities

In early May 2024, several Pinellas County businesses enjoyed a unique opportunity. As part of Special Operations Forces (SOF) Week, a delegation of Australian Defense companies toured St. Petersburg’s Maritime and Defense Technology HUB, meeting with companies to explore potential connections for trade and investment.

Brent Barkway, Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) Economic Development Manager, explains, “SOF Week draws over 20,000 attendees to the Tampa Bay area – we wanted to capitalize on that and connect with decision-makers who might not otherwise know about the benefits and opportunities for doing business here in Pinellas.”

Sponsored by USSOCOM and the Global SOF Foundation, SOF Week is an annual conference held in Tampa, Florida for the international SOF community to learn, connect, and honor its members. Barkway and Karen Loughran, representing Australia’s Victorian Government, were introduced earlier in the year through SelectFlorida and planned for an Australian delegation to spend a day of SOF Week in Pinellas, meeting with local companies such as Digital Twin Marine, GDX Development, Virtru, and Lonestar Lunar.

“The shared workspace concept of the HUB was designed to help businesses in the maritime defense industry pursue growth opportunities by pooling resources such as port access, rooms designed for secure communications, and wet/chemical laboratories. This is a huge benefit to our tenants’ daily operations, but also to outside interests like the Australian Delegation in search of expansion into the U.S. market,” says St. Pete Innovation District Executive Director Alison Barlow.

Barkway hopes that this is only the beginning of an ongoing collaboration. He says, “U.S. trade and investment contributes to seven percent of Australia’s annual economy, and the United States is Australia’s third largest trading partner. There’s a huge amount of opportunity for our local companies to grow through the connections made during this visit, as well as for Australian companies looking to launch into the U.S. The hope is that we’ll soon put together our own local delegation for a trade mission to Victoria, Australia.”

For her part, Loughran offered much appreciation for the visit on behalf of the Australian trade delegation, stating that “Many attendees mentioned that it was one of the highlights of the trade mission. It was an absolute pleasure visiting with you, and I hope we can collaborate again.” Learn more about programs and assistance that can help your business grow through international trade by visiting PCED.ORG/International.

Pinellas County – The Ideal Business Climate

Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) works with existing businesses to encourage expansion and seeks to attract new companies with high-wage careers to Central Florida’s Gulf Coast. Through investment tools, professional courses and business counseling sessions, trade missions to open new markets, as well as local, regional and statewide partnerships, PCED fosters a pro-business climate in Pinellas County, Florida.

Pinellas County Economic Development
The EpiCenter, 13805 58th Street North, Suite 1-200
Clearwater, Florida 33760

(727) 464-7332 direct
(888) 759-5627 outside of Florida
(727) 464-7053 fax