The Marathon business community may soon have some new members.
Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Samess told the city council in his second quarter report Tuesday evening that the Red Carpet Tour, designed and hosted by members of the Chamber board to recruit new businesses to the Middle Keys, is proving fruitful in their efforts.
From a private nuclear engineering consulting firm to a high-end used car company, Samess said the group is receiving a steady flow of email and inquiries from prospective businesses. A handful of them he’s called “high probability contacts” will likely open shop here soon.
Ron Mattar and his family from Brazil spent the past month in the “Boating Destination of the Florida Keys” to get a better feel for the city, Samess explained, and they’re anxious to return and open their first US-based office in Marathon.
“He sells medical and healthcare related equipment to clinics and hospitals around the world,” Samess told The Marathon Weekly. “He and his family spent the entire month of July here renting a house. The Kids were in Camp Adventure and attended camp at Pigeon Key. They loved it here and can’t wait to come back.”
Ron Mattar is a distributor of sports and preventative medicine equipment, and he is eagerly anticipating expanding his offerings to the US and Latin American markets.
“I’ve always been active,” he told The Marathon Weekly, adding, “I love to run. Health in general is my business.”
For the past few years, Mattar said he’d sensed an increasing demand for expanding business into Latin America, Europe and to a less extent, Africa and Asia, in addition to the US market. Moving his products to foreign countries from Brazil makes little economic sense, he said, because taxes, freight charges, and paperwork are doubled.
“Operating directly out of Florida to the rest of the world is far cheaper, easier, and faster,” he explained, adding that his business plan coincides nicely with his future plans for his family.
“Our family has always had the idea of spending sometime living in the US, mainly for our kids, Beatriz, 9 and Danny, 13, to experience school and learn English,” he continued.
“Last year we spent New Years in the Keys at the Ranch House Motel, and the whole family got so hooked on the place.”
Tax accounting specialists Steve Pribramsky and Dave Collins are assisting Mattar with his paperwork, and he anticipates permanently setting up shop in September.
After hearing the presentation from Samess and committee member John Bartus, Councilman Rich Keating asked the pair, based on the inquiries to date, if they’d heard any feedback about what the city can improve upon to further entice outside businesses to relocate to Marathon.
Particularly with a California-based animation company in the process of seeking venture capital for their start-up business, Samess told Keating that he’d been asked about incentive programs.
“People that have been here want to see more rapid improvement with our image,” Samess confirmed. “That’s something I’ve heard.”
Bartus added that the city’s tax structure, touted on the promotional websites, has proven a positive lure amongst the various businesses.
Two websites, http://www.marathonredcarpet.com and http://www.relocatetothefloridakeys.com, have received more than 38,000 hits from across the globe, and a both sites are the first in a list of results with a Google search.
The Red Carpet Tour committee, including Samess, John Bartus, Sarah Cizmas, Theo Derleth and David Grego, have established relationships with the state’s economic development engine, Enterprise Florida. Through word-of-mouth advertising, the websites and positive public relations efforts, the committee is currently in discussions with 12 businesses pondering either expansion or relocation.
“We have had conversations and exploratory discussions with many different business owners and representatives,” Samess reported. “Over 20 inquiries from the website [have been] regarding employment opportunities in Marathon and all inquiries were from individuals living outside Monroe County.”
Samess divulged other potential new businesses include:
• An Austrian businessman interested in launching the initial base of his solar business operation.
• A German-based manufacturer and retailer of inflatable boats.
• A financial management firm in the exploratory stages of expanding its operations to the Florida Keys.
• A Wisconsin-based family interested in purchasing an existing bar and restaurant in the Middle Keys.
The committee has also ordered a trade show booth with plans for an appearance at the GreenBusiness Works Expo in Atlanta in September.
Samess concluded the presentation by asking the council and audience to send any inquiries in his direction.
“Anybody who has leads or referrals, please call me,” he encouraged. “Even with the Internet, word of mouth is still the best mode of advertising.”
Ron Mattar will be expanding his Brazilian company, TBW, a distributor of sports and preventative medicine equipment, to operate in Marathon. He and his family (l-r) wife Claudia, Beatriz, 9, and Danny, 13, spent the past month renting a home in Marathon. Both children attended local camps and are eagerly anticipating their return in the coming weeks.