Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Councilman Going on Trade Mission to S. Africa

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Councilman Going on Trade Mission to S. Africa

Article excerpt

Except for the long commute, Jacksonville City Councilman Lad Daniels says he's excited to be the only elected official from Northeast Florida taking part in a state trade mission to South Africa next week.

"My hot button is economic development," Daniels said. "I'm wearing the international hat for the city."

Elected to the council in 1999, Daniels also is president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association. This is his first trip overseas as an appointed board member of the city's trade division, the International Development Commission.

The trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, begins tomorrow morning and ends Saturday. A 16-hour flight from Atlanta will start Daniels and the others, including Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, on the journey.

"It's to hustle our goods over in South Africa," Daniels said. "We're interested in increasing our exports."

The trip is being organized by Enterprise Florida, a partnership between government and business aimed at increasing jobs and business opportunities. A total of 33 Florida politicians and business people will go -- including five from Jacksonville -- at a cost of about $2,100 per person including airfare and conference registration, commission staffer Nancy Olson said.

Daniels' trip is being paid for through the taxpayer money funding the commission, part of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission. Olson, the JEDC's international trade coordinator, also is attending on the public's tab.

"The world is so small and shrinking so fast that you have to think globally to survive," Olson said about the trip's importance.

Daniels said the potential business opportunities are well worth the cost of traveling overseas. South Africa is one of Florida's top trading partners, with the state selling 10 times as many goods to South Africa as it imports from that country. …

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