Swedes were a dominant part of Florida as early as the second half of the nineteenth century. They founded cities, built railroads and—some claim—even founded the now so important citrus industry. Today, the Swedish population is bigger than ever and making its mark on business and local events in the entire state.
As reported in an earlier issue, IKEA opened its third Florida location, in Tampa, on May 6, 2009 (more info: www.ikea-usa.com).
After a visit by a delegation from SKUT (The Swedish Church Abroad) hosted by Honorary Council Per Olof Lööf in early 2008, it seems likely that a Swedish pastor will be allocated to southern Florida. Several groups will join together on May 10 to celebrate spring at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1770 Brickell Ave., Miami, during a Swedish church service officiated by visiting New York pastor Ib Pihlblad (more info: Filippa Leijonhfvud-Reading, Filippa2@att.net or Pia Azzara, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Florida is home to two Swedish American Chambers of Commerce, two chapters of SWEA, several lodges and social clubs.
SACC Florida in Miami, mainly a business chamber which functions as a gateway to the vast markets in Central and Latin America, has only corporate clients and limits its social activities to events that can be coordinated with the local SWEA or other organizations.
SACC-Greater Orlando/Tampa Bay more recently became a regional chapter of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce of the United States (SACC-USA). It covers the central and northern parts of the state of Florida—three dynamic regions: The Tampa Bay region, the East Central region and the Northeast region, which together represent 8.5 million consumers.
The area is home to more than 7,600 high tech companies, 18 universities and numerous research institutions. Major industry sectors include aviation and aerospace, information technology, life science/medical technology, optics and photonics and needless to say, hospitality and tourism.
In recent years, the region has attracted 569 foreign affiliated companies. Foreign investments have added $3.5 billion to the economy, making Florida the 10th largest recipient of foreign investment in the United States. The region offers excellent infrastructure which attracts distribution centers and company expansions.
Anyone with an interest in the activities of these vital organizations can contact www.sacc-florida.com or www.sacc-greaterorlando-tampabay.org or the national SACC-USA at www.sacc-usa.org.
Looking for Pea Soup or Crayfish Parties, Scandinavian Shrimp Feast or Swedish Midsummer celebrations? Contact any of the SWEA chapters, through www.swea.org or, in the northwest, the active Swedish Club www.swedishclubsarasota.org.