The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. has signed an agreement with Orange Sports Forum Foundation – the national body for sports and sports business development in The Netherlands – to host a business delegation and soccer team in Manatee County in April 2021, according to Sharon Hillstrom, EDC president and CEO. More than a dozen sports-related businesses from The Netherlands are expected to participate, and IMG Academy will provide training and competition venues and services for the visiting soccer team.

“This is an exciting step forward in our work to promote the Bradenton area’s sports performance industry and assets,” Hillstrom said. “We look forward to providing opportunities for businesses in Manatee County to engage with the visiting executives for mutual benefit.”

Camil Smeulders, founder and board member of Orange Sports Forum, said: “This partnership offers a unique opportunity for Orange Sports Forum to serve our members with their challenges to enter the U.S. sports market. Florida, and the Bradenton Area specifically, is a true sports-minded environment and therefore the perfect place to share knowledge about sports, build partnerships in the field of sports, and a great location to establish a business. We really look forward to activating this agreement in the near future!”

The initiative grew from relationships the EDC established during a trade mission to The Netherlands in 2019. The agreement with Orange Sports Forum envisions a long-term collaboration of trade exchanges and sports industry development between the European nation and the Bradenton area. In addition to the activities next April, the EDC is working to secure The Netherlands’ soccer World Cup training in 2026 and pre-training for the Olympics in 2028, Hillstrom said.

About the Bradenton Area EDC

The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. is the lead economic development organization for the Bradenton area’s nine communities located on the south side of Tampa Bay. The EDC works to diversify the local economy by attracting and retaining high-wage jobs for area residents, and connecting established businesses to the resources they need to succeed. Information: BradentonAreaEDC.com.

About the Orange Sports Forum Foundation

Orange Sports Forum is a foundation representing a network of 300 Dutch sports-related organizations. The goal of OSF is to promote Dutch sports-related organizations worldwide and to support those organizations with exporting their products, knowledge, and services. OSF is also the logical partner for foreign companies that need for Dutch sports expertise or products. OSF connects them with the best companies, sports associations or knowledge partners in the Netherlands. OSF works closely with the Dutch Ministries of Sports, Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs and Dutch embassies and consulates across the world. Information: www.hollandsportsindustry.com.