The chair of the city’s economic development committee has embarked on a 10-day trade mission to Central and South America in order to stir up extra business for the more than 500 Latin American-owned companies already operating in the Toronto region.

Ward 37 Coun. Michael Thompson and Director of Business Growth Services George Spezza are leading the business mission to Brazil, Uruguay, Panama and Mexico.

In a press release, Thomson said the focus of the business mission will be on “developing trade and export opportunities for Toronto’s small and medium-sized businesses.”

Thomson also said that the business mission will build on the work that the city has been doing in creating a Latin American Bi-lateral Trade Initiative with the support of consulates from 13 Latin American countries.

"It takes our ongoing engagement initiative with Toronto's Latin American consular community to the next level,” he said.

Business mission runs until Dec. 9

The business mission began today and will conclude on Dec. 9.

During the mission, Thomson and Spezza will meet with a number of businesses and political leaders. A Memorandum of Understanding will also be signed between the City of Toronto and Uruguay’s investment and export promotion agency Uruguay XXI during a visit to Montevideo, Uruguay.

"The City of Toronto's visit to Uruguay and the signing of this MOU are important actions that will help build lasting partnerships between our business communities,” Uruguay’s Consul General in Toronto Silvana Montes de Oca said in the press release.

According to the city, there are more than 500 Latin American-owned businesses in the Toronto region and a third of those companies derive at least part of their income from Latin-American countries.