If there were any remaining doubters that Jesse Biter is fast becoming a big deal in Florida politics, it likely ended in South America last week.
The 36-year-old Sarasota entrepreneur already has become a key player and campaign donor in local races, played host to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio twice, and headquartered Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign in Florida.
Now, Biter is becoming a regular on international trade missions with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Biter spent the last week in Chile with Scott trying to recruit businesses there to come to Florida and build ties with the state.
“It’s all about selling Florida as a place to do business,” Biter said in a telephone interview from Chile.
Biter said his role is to explain to business leaders in other nations what Florida can offer to help them grow their businesses, like he has experienced. Biter, who made a multimillion-dollar fortune developing software for the auto industry, moved to Sarasota about a dozen years ago.
Biter did not realize Scott had a surprise in store during the adventure to Chile. Scott used the trip to present Biter with one of three “Business Ambassador Awards” in recognition of his efforts to promote pro-business policies in Florida as a business owner and board member for Enterprise Florida.
Biter said 10 years ago he could not have envisioned being the kind of guy politicians turned to for advice on business, let alone standing side-by-side with a governor on trade missions.
“Really it’s amazing and humbling,” Biter said. “It shows that one person really can have an effect.”
Biter was among 83 people from Florida — most of whom paid their own way — to be on the mission. According to Scott’s office, Chile is Florida’s seventh leading trade partner.