Gainesville area leaders showcased the community to the U.S. ambassador of the Philippines and other officials on Tuesday (June 24).
In turn, Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. outlined the business opportunities in the Philippines, a country of 100 million people that has one of the strongest economies in Southeast Asia – despite the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in November.
“We are engaged in economic diplomacy – exploring trade opportunities and encouraging Filipino-Americans to invest in their home country,” Cuisia said at a breakfast at the Thomas Center. The event was part of the Export Gainesville initiative of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Economic Outreach.
Mayor Ed Braddy welcomed the Filipino delegation. “We’re rapidly making this the best region in the state to find economic prosperity,” he said.
The Filipino delegation toured the headquarters of BioTork, which produces microbes and uses biological processes to convert waste from field crops into chemicals, fuels and plastics.
In May, the Hawaiian Legislature authorized issuing $50 million in bonds for a project that would use BioTork’s processes to convert agricultural by-products into fuel and high-protein feed.
The same technology potentially could be used in the Philippines, which grows large amounts of sugarcane, Cuisia said.
David Massias, co-founder and CEO of Shadow Health, talked with Cuisia, Jr. and Maria Roseni Alvero, the commercial counselor with the Philippine embassy. Massias is interested in having training programs in the Philippines use his company’s software, which uses simulations to train student nurses in assessing patients.
“Since training in the Philippines is done in English, it would be easy to use our tools there,” Massias said.
John Hartnett, the vice president of global business development for Endoscopy Replacement Parts, Inc., based in Newberry, talked with the delegation about using the Philippines as a distribution hub for his company’s products and other things manufactured in the Gainesville area.