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International business expo registration opens today

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Registration for the 2015 International Town Hall in St. Pete this May opens today. The $45 event takes a look at what drives international business growth in Tampa Bay.

The town hall on May 8 from 7:30-11:30 a.m. will feature a variety of business speakers at the St. Petersburg Hilton Carillon. The airline company Lufthansa will deliver a keynote presentation and likely include information regarding its new direct flights from Tampa to Germany. Those flights are set to begin later this year.

Other speakers include Rick Homans, president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council; Mike Maidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development; Davide Downing, executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater; Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay; Paul Anderson, president and CEO of Port Tampa Bay, and Joe Lopano, who heads Tampa International Airport. TIA is sponsoring the event.

Speakers are expected to discuss what happened in the business world last year and what 2015 may have in store. The goal of the talks is to help local businesses and business leaders get a foothold in the international business community.

Panels include sessions on trade, how business affects veterans and future steps to continue growth in the region.

There will also be time for attendees to network and speak with service providers who can help kick off international business opportunities.

The Tampa Hillsborough EDC and Pinellas County Economic Development group will be hosting the town hall. The two groups form the partnership Tampa Bay Export Alliance. Last year the group hosted its first trade mission to Santiago, Chile. Fourteen companies participated and generated some $9 million in real and potential exports for local businesses.

Sponsorships for the event are also available.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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