Engage Cuba, State Leaders Launch Engage Cuba Alabama State Council

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Engage Cuba, a leading advocacy organization, today launched the Engage Cuba Alabama State Council to build statewide support for Congressional action to end the travel ban and trade embargo on Cuba. 

The founding members of the State Council include Alabama leaders from a broad range of sectors including agriculture, business, technology, manufacturing, education, energy and government leaders. The Council seeks to expand trade with Cuba in order to provide economic opportunities for Alabamians and empower the Cuban people.

"We’re very pleased to work with all of our Engage Cuba Alabama State Council members to lift the embargo that is costing Alabama jobs and preventing economic development for the Cuban people. It's time to end 50 years of failed, isolationist policies toward Cuba," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. "Alabama businesses are stuck on the sidelines as our foreign competitors continue to take advantage of Cuba's growing markets. Opening up trade with Cuba would provide tremendous opportunities for Alabama ports, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.”

As Cuba’s markets continue to grow given the rise of tourism and the increasing purchasing power of 11 million Cubans, demand for high-quality U.S. exports will continue to rise. In May, Engage Cuba released a report with the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) highlighting the significant economic benefits that increased agriculture trade between the U.S. and Cuba would bring to Alabama.

Given Alabama’s Gulf ports and its standing as a top exporter of U.S. agriculture, the report states that Alabama exports have significant room for growth if changes in U.S. policies open opportunities for agricultural trade with Cuba and allow U.S. exporters to extend credit.  

“We are interested in growing Alabama's export performance. Exports create new agricultural and manufacturing jobs and that is why we support efforts to engage with Cuba. This year, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 43, which calls for an end to the embargo,” said Alabama Sen. J.T. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills). “Cubans need a whole array of goods and services and Alabama’s exports are second to none. We have recognized that restricting American freedom and business has not brought about the democratic change in Cuba we hoped it would.”

“Our focus is to continue to build on our poultry exports with Cuba, which are significant. We further hope that we can expand our trade relationship to include importing Cuban fruits and vegetables,” said Commissioner John McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries. 

On Wednesday, Engage Cuba will launch their Mississippi State Council. In addition to Alabama and Mississippi, Engage Cuba has launched state councils in Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas. 

While Engage Cuba will continue to add members, the Founding Members of the Engage Cuba Alabama State Council are:

John McMillan, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Industries

Greg Canfield, Secretary of Commerce, Alabama Department of Commerce

J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, Former Senate Majority Leader, Alabama Senate

Vivian Figures, Former Senate Minority Leader, Alabama Senate

Victor Gaston, Acting Speaker of the House, Alabama House of Representatives

Sandy Stimpson, Mayor of Mobile

James K. “Jimmy” Lyons, Director/CEO, Alabama State Port Authority

Jo Bonner, Vice Chancellor, University of Alabama Systems

Johnny Adams, Executive Director, Alabama Poultry Association

Billy Powell, Executive Vice President, Alabama Cattlemen Association

Jerry Carl, President, Mobile County Commission

Greg Reed, Senate Majority Leader, Alabama Senate

Quinton Ross, Senate Minority Leader, Alabama Senate

Hank Sanders, Alabama Senate

Tom Whatley, Alabama Senate

Rusty Glover, Alabama Senate

Clay Scofield, Alabama Senate

Tim Melson, Alabama Senate

Gerald Dial, Alabama Senate

Bill Hightower, Alabama Senate, Tower Strategies, Inc, Thermission Board

Cam Ward, Alabama Senate

Micky Hammon, Majority Leader, Alabama House of Representatives

Jack Williams, Alabama House of Representatives

Randy Davis, Alabama House of Representatives

Michael Ciamarra, Executive Assistant & Policy to Senate Rules Chairman

Scotty Colson, Director, Economic Development Birmingham; Sister Cities

George Henry, President, Alabama County Managers Association

Mark Jackson, Alabama Honorary Consul General of Japan

John Key, International Trade Consultant, Pan American Council on Trade, LLC

Jerry Lathan, President, Lathan Company

Scott Myers, Director, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Mitt Walker, Director, Alabama Farmers Federation

Scott Phillips, President, Strada Professional Services, LLC

Mayra Diaz, Vice President of International Sales, Amerex Corporation

Grey Redditt, Maynard Cooper and Gale Law Firm; Mobile Sister Cities Commission

Stanley Murphy, Murphy & Murphy, LLC; The Cuba Center, University of Alabama

Christina McInnis, Representative on Bilateral Trade with Cuba, GulfWise Commerce

D. Davies Hood, Jr., President, Induron Coatings

Springna Zhao, Partner for LAN Consulting LLC

Beth Chapman, Former Alabama Secretary of State,  President, Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC

Mark A. Froehlich, Principal, Impact Partners

Sara Kate Sullivan, Ph.D Candidate at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Horace Clemmons, CleBer Tractors, LLC

Wes Long, Entrepreneur, Former State Representative Alabama House of Representatives

Marty Connors, M. J. Connors Consulting

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