King & Queen of Spain celebrate Florida’s history

The King & Queen of Spain celebrate Florida’s History
Events in Pensacola and Miami highlight Florida’s linkages with Spain

Governor Charlie Crist today welcomed His Majesty King Juan Carlos I and Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain to Florida for a series of events honoring the 450th anniversary of the Spanish arrival in northwest Florida.

“I and my fellow Floridians are honored to welcome Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain to Florida,” Governor Crist remarked at a public forum in front of the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum in historic Pensacola Village. Joined by United States Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Jeff Miller and Pensacola Mayor Mike Wiggins, Governor Crist touted the many long-standing linkages between Florida and Spain.

“Florida and Spain enjoy a relationship that is unmatched among all states in our nation,“ said Governor Crist. “From colonial times to today, centuries of history have produced a strong bond resulting in two-way trade and investment, tourism, partnerships in education, and a lasting influence upon Florida’s culture and cuisine.”

The royal visit to Pensacola is part of a two-day stop in the state, including events in Miami today and Friday. The Governor will also join His Majesty The King at the opening of a Spain-Florida Business Conference on Friday in Miami. Organized by the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development; Enterprise Florida Inc.; the Embassy of Spain; the Trade Commission of Spain in Miami; Spain-Florida 500 Foundation; and Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the conference will bring together more than 400 business leaders from Spain and Florida, highlighting investment opportunities in renewable technologies. Commenting on the event, Governor Crist touted Florida’s strong business ties with Spain.

“What was once a connection defined by interest in exploration and trade has since become one of Florida’s most dynamic commercial partnerships,” noted Governor Crist. ”Spain is a world leader in the development of renewable technologies and committed to addressing climate change. This new opportunity for partnership between our two people will drive success between us for future centuries.”

The Governor will open the business conference along with His Majesty The King; U.S. Senator Mel Martinez; Silvia Iranzo, Spain Secretary of State for Commerce; and Spain Commissioner of Trade Belen Cristino. A business panel focusing on investments in clean technologies will follow and include participants from Enterprise Florida, Inc., The Spain Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), FPL, Acciona a Water, Greenfuel Corporation and Renovalia.

Florida-Spain Relations
Florida trade with Spain reached $1.2 billion in 2008, increasing 26.1 percent over 2007. With more than 400 Spanish companies in banking, insurance, engineering, food and beverage, and communications operating across the state, there are more subsidiaries of Spanish companies in Florida than from any country in the world. These investments have generated $300 million in direct investment, and they employ 4,000 Floridians.

Pensacola’s 450th Anniversary
This year marks the 450th anniversary of the Spanish arrival in West Florida. Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna arrived in Pensacola on August 15, 1559, with a contingent of more than 1,500 soldiers, servants, settlers, priests and Mexican Indians. Shortly after establishing the settlement, a hurricane destroyed supplies, eventually causing the Spanish to flee the area and not return until the late 1600s.

Other events planned throughout the year for Pensacola’s 450th anniversary include the Pensacola Wine Festival, Miguel Zapata art exhibit, Battle of Pensacola reenactment, Heritage Festival, a visit from the tallship Juan Sebastián de Elcano, a landing celebration, parades, concerts and more.

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