Alabama-based Cleber LLC
Florida-based Florida Produce of Hillsborough County
Since 17 December 2014, there are but two (2) announced efforts by United States-based companies to establish an operational commercial presence within the Republic of Cuba.
Neither is high-tech nor requires massive investment; significant that the principals in the respective efforts are not representing multi-national companies. They are not billionaires. Their engagement with the governments of the United States and Republic of the Cuba were from the bottom up, not top down. They are entrepreneurs. Each has employees of Cuban descent.
The first proposal is to assemble tractors at a leased warehouse located in the Special Development Zone in Mariel (ZED Mariel) using parts manufactured in the United States and then exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.
The second proposal is to distribute, from a leased 70,000 square foot warehouse in central Havana, food products and agricultural commodities grown, manufactured, processed, and distributed in the United States and then exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.
Each effort will employ Republic of Cuba nationals.
The Obama Administration has approved both proposals.
The first proposal has authorization from the government of the Republic of Cuba.
The second proposal does not yet have authorization from the government of the Republic of Cuba; it needs to be authorized by 21 March 2016. Both efforts need to be operational well before 20 January 2017.
In less than one month, Air Force One will land at Jose Marti International Airport in the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba, depositing President Barack Obama, his wife and children. They will be welcomed by President Raul Castro and his wife and children.
Under traditional conditions, when a president travels to a country, there are bilateral agreements to announce and commercial agreements at which to preside. This is not, by any measure, a traditional visit.
Both the Obama Administration and Castro Administration are seeking to maximize the value of the visit; and each are, sometimes independently of one another, attempting to identify and confirm agreements with each other and with large United States-based companies… seeking “sizzle with the steak.”
However, to use an accounting analogy, LIFO (Last in First Out) is neither a remedy nor strategy for the shifting of hypothetical to reality; from discussion to action. FIFO (First in First Out) is the paramount principle.
Important now, critical, is for the government of the Republic of Cuba to provide each of these companies with available facilities, even if such facilities might be temporary. Signage needs to be above the door, telephones need to be installed. Bank accounts need to be established.
Neither Cleber LLC nor Florida Produce of Hillsborough County will become operational in twenty-nine days. That’s not the point.
When President Obama arrives in Havana, he will have three hundred-and-five days remaining in his term in office. President Obama has implemented policies and regulations designed to support entrepreneurship and commercial re-engagement. President Castro has recognized that independent businesses may have an effective, but managed role in the economy; and that there is a role for United States companies.
It’s time. During the visit, President Castro has one opportunity to show President Obama what has been accomplished…. by two entrepreneurs, one from Alabama and the other from Florida, each with a vision, with a commitment… and each ready to go.