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A Worldly View From Southwest Florida

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Between 2009 and 2013, the export market in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan statistical area spiked 86.4 percent, ranking it fourth in the state. And, officials say, the opportunities for business expansion outside of our region’s borders continue to avail themselves to ventures that are able to navigate the challenging international marketplace.

Sounds great, but those prospects come with the questions of where, how, why and what? This month, we checked in with a variety of experts to provide the answers— and advice—in our story “Growing A Global Enterprise.”

Southwest Florida’s agriculture trade is, not surprisingly, among the top 10 industries for international growth, a list that also includes manufacturing, logistics, aerospace and technology.

Examples of local companies that have made the world their economic oyster are Arthrex, Hertz, and Allyn International Systems. The sphere of local businesses reaches to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America and the Caribbean, where a lot of eyes are on the potential for trade resumption with Cuba.

Achieving success, however, is tough for a variety of factors such as cultural differences, shipping logistics and the laws and customs of other countries. And then there is emotion, according to Kevin Brady, an international trade specialist with the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University. “The biggest obstacle that companies have is just fear. It’s fear of the unknown,” he says.

Learn more about the global potential beginning on page 14.

Closer to home, Lee Health—a recently adopted name for Lee Memorial Health System—is celebrating its 100th anniversary. What started as a four-room hospital in Fort Myers has expanded into a $1.46 billion health care entity that includes multiple facilities and specialties, Its footprint now stretches into Naples.

Lee Health does have its critics, particularly when it comes to its dominant market share, but the system’s leaders remain committed to continuing its future growth. Please read the details starting on page 20.

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