A FORMER banker who is to champion the cause of Torbay's Hi-Tech sector in the States says he believe the area is a 'pearl'.
Bruce Gammill, account manager for Torbay for the Boston-based England Development Agency, says he believes the area has strengths and skills which American businesses will be keen to exploit.
The aim of the initiative, launched by Torbay Council and Torbay Development Agency in July, is to encourage businesses in the US involved in advanced electronics, call centre, tourism and marine industry sectors to consider Torbay both for trade connections and as an ideal location for a foothold in the European market.
Mr Gammill has been visiting many of the companies which featured at the Hi-Tech Forum event MTI13 which attracted more than 30 companies and 500 delegates from companies across the south west.
He will be matchmaking between America and Torbay and believes there are good prospect for such business links — and new jobs in the area.
Mr Gammill, who already knows the area well from working with the former South West Regional Development Agency for nine years, said: "From what I have seen there are nimble tech companies with world class managers. That is partly the legacy of Nortel or Nortel's predecessors. You have a pool of talent which is broad and deep and people don't know that.
"There are also people here who aren't in IT at the moment who could be brought back to work on the process side of the business, such as admin and the supply chain, not just the engineering job.
"You have people here who can make things. That's a huge resource.
"What keeps people here is lifestyle and family. You also have excellent schools and universities."
The fact the south west as a whole had a strong high-tech sector would be a strong incentive to American companies because of the ability to network with existing companies.
As well as the Hi-Tech Forum manufacturers he believed Torbay also had a burgeoning life sciences sector which could be attractive, such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Mr Gammill said: "It is hard work, but we have something to sell. It is unpredictable when we will see results, but even in this short period of time there are a couple of irons in the fire and from what I have learnt here, I am sure I can blow on those irons a bit more.
"I am sincere, you have actually got something which is special. If I wanted to paint a picture of this area in one word I would say it is a pearl."