Houston announced publicly for the first time last week its intention to bid for the Free Trade Area of the Americas secretariat, joining Atlanta and Miami, among other cities, in competition for FTAA-related jobs and investment.

            The city is to make its candidacy formal this week, notifying the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative of its plans to apply, David McCollum, communications manager with Greater Houston Partnership, the economic development agency leading the FTAA efforts, told GlobalFax.

            Already, the USTR has received applications from Chicago, Colorado Springs, Colo. and Miami, all of which are eager to attract the FTAA headquarters that could, according to a University of Georgia study, bring 11,000 jobs and an additional $500 million annually to the winning state’s gross domestic product.

            Cities outside the U.S. competing for the secretariat include Cancun and Puebla, Mexico; Panama City, Panama and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

            Atlanta, which has been campaigning for the FTAA headquarters through visits to Latin American countries, is also to finalize its candidacy application with the USTR this week in preparation for the FTAA ministerial meeting in Miami, Nov. 20-21, according to Rose Raus with Atlanta, Georgia: Gateway to the Americas.

            The organization, which is spearheading Atlanta’s efforts to lure the secretariat, is to send a delegation to Florida to participate in the ministerial.

            Immediately prior to the Miami visit, the delegation will attend an economic summit in Bolivia, promoting Atlanta to business and government leaders there, added Ms. Raus.

            Mr. McCollum said he was not sure if Houston has plans to send a delegation to the ministerial.

            The Greater Houston Partnership, however, does intend to ramp up its lobbying initiatives in an effort to catch up with Atlanta and Miami, its main U.S.-based competition, in exposure to Latin American communities, he said.

            “We’re not concerned that we’re coming in late,” he explained.  “We’re not as far along as Atlanta and Miami, but we definitely think we can catch up.”

            He added that he believes Houston has an edge over competitors such as Chicago and Colorado Springs because of its port and its proximity to Latin America.

            For additional information, contact Ms. Raus at rose@dlapublicaffairs.com or visit www.houston.org for additional information about the Greater Houston Partnership.