ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida has become a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, one of the most influential communities is the Brazilian community.
Known for their samba and carnvales, or carnivals -- the Brazilian community has become a driving force in Central Florida’s culture and economy.
“We’ve got a lot of investments from Brazil. We see a lot of different types of businesses some that would be obvious like Embraer has one of its major manufacturing plants in Melbourne,” Chris Legget, program manager for Central Florida International Trade Office said. “It can also be really innovative companies that have been started by immigrants.”
In addition to the various workforce areas created by Brazilians, Legget also explained there are about 260 students at the University of Central Florida who are from Brazil.
“UCF actually helps make a big contribution for their economic impact because they will run the incubation center that then provides opportunities for some of these students to start businesses or bring businesses from home to get started in Central Florida,” Legget said.
When it comes to the trade industry, the impact is far more significant Legget said.
“We’re talking really big numbers here. In terms of exports of you look just at the metro Orlando area it’s about $237 million that we export,” he said. “But if you look at the broader nine counties that are served by News 6, then we’re talking about $833 million in exports.”
Andrea Almeida, Vice President of Central Florida Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce said since about 2014 there’s been an influx of Brazilians.
“They are professionals. They are investing some serious money in Central Florida so there is a lot of business and investment in real estate and other things,” Almeida said.
Pre-COVID, Central Florida was a hot spot for Brazilian tourists -- it wasn’t unusual to see theme parks with large groups from Brazil.
According to Visit Orlando, Brazil traditionally ranks third after Canada and U.K with over 890,000 visitors to Orlando in a normal year but current travel restrictions are impacting that number for 2020.
And an increasing number of Brazilians are starting to call Central Florida home.
Along International Drive, Brazilian shopping centers and restaurants like Boteco, Camila’s and Tony’s Brazilian Grill have become a staple in Orlando. The shops offer not only offer a taste of Brazil but give a sense of home to Brazilians and no one feels more at home than Almeida who migrated to Orlando more than 20 years ago.
“When I moved here I couldn’t even buy foods-- [I’m] really grateful because now I know there [are] restaurants, there’s supermarkets,” Almeida said. “And Central Florida is a big melting pot and I love that about this city how we are so different but yet we’re so blended.”
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