Scaling up and investing in new talent and equipment in preparation of the Panama Canal expansion is an opportunity to take a domestic business global—in particular, to Latin America.
According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 CFO Outlook, about 16 percent of manufacturers are looking to establish new operations in Latin America, compared to 15 percent considering Asia and 14 percent considering Europe. In fact, companies with headquarters in Latin America that want to do business in the U.S. often establish operations in Florida, particularly Miami. As the fastest-growing U.S. business and consumer market in the South, Florida's ports will be seen as gateways to both Latin American and Chinese markets.
Read MoreA Google bet guiding the fate of US manufacturing
Entering new markets and ramping up production could result in the need for new business partners. In light of the skilled labor shortage in the U.S., small- and middle-market businesses should tap existing networks, both domestically and internationally, to get introduced to organizations and partners that support new business, especially in a new geographic area. Working with skilled employees who are knowledgeable about the new market will give the company entering it the right understanding of their new foreign counterparts and consumers.
Business owners must become aware of what is happening and make sure that their business strategies reflect these new realities. If they do not, their competitors surely will.
—By Doug Davidson, north/central commercial banking market executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Odalis Martinez, Miami/Fort Lauderdale small-business banking manager