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Brazil trip designed to lure jobs

Local and state representatives boarded a plane to Brazil Sunday, but are not taking a vacation.

They are hoping to bring an economic boost to the region by building stronger ties with the business community in South America’s largest nation.

Those attending the trip are: Lincoln Economic Development Association Executive Director Barry Matherly; Charlotte Regional Partnership President and Chief Executive Officer Ronnie Bryant; N.C. Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco; N.C. Department of Commerce International Trade Director Jean Davis; Sabo Executive Vice President Panico Peres; Cabarrus County Economic Development Vice President Ryan McDaniel; and N.C. Department of Commerce Existing Industry Specialist Uconda Dunn.

This visit will not be the first time Matherly has seen Brazil. Five years ago, Matherly made a formal presentation to Sabo before the company decided to open a plant in Lincolnton.

“Brazil is considered one of the four BRIC nations, made up of Brazil, Russia, India and China,” Matherly said. “They are the fastest growing economies in the world and Brazil is the only one on the Western Hemisphere.”

Brazil’s presence has grown in the United States. Last year, Charlotte Douglas International Airport added a direct flight to Rio de Janeiro, the second-largest city in Brazil.

A flight to Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, will be added at the airport in the future, Matherly said.

“Every day there is a flight back and forth between Brazil and us from Charlotte Douglas,” he said. “There is an established connection. It’s very easy for businesses to get back and forth.”

Matherly contacted Bryant, of Charlotte Regional Partnership, to see whether there was an interest in forming a business development trip to Brazil.

The answer was yes, and the group has been planning the trip for the past six months. They will return March 7 at 6 a.m. after spending 11 hours in the air.

Once the group arrives in Brazil, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine, they will meet many officials and companies.

The business development trip will allow the group to meet with Brazilian companies, as well as Alessandro Teixeira, economic developer for Brazil, to find out whether they are interested in opening facilities in North Carolina.

Also, the locals will visit Sabo’s Brazilian headquarters and speak with other North Carolina companies that have facilities in Brazil.

The group has two main goals, Matherly said.

They wanted to establish relationships with companies that are considering coming to the United States.

Also, the group wanted to form bonds with local folks, who can educate Brazilian companies about the benefits of coming to North Carolina.

“This trip will form the foundation for many future Brazilian development missions,” Matherly said. “It’s not just the Charlotte region. Other places are interested in that connection too.”

LEDA is also in the process of organizing a familiarization tour of Brazil, which is open to anyone, next spring.

“The purpose is to get more people aware of the country and aware of what is going on and the potential for business development,” Matherly said.

Anyone interested in that trip should contact Matherly at 704-732-1511 or barry@lincolneda.org .