Business is on the minds of Palm Beach County companies as presidents meet

Regulations and trade deals could impact jobs
Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 18:59:15-04

As the leaders of the world’s two largest economies meet, general managers and company presidents will keep an eye on the business side of their conversations.

One West Palm Beach manufacturer explained changes to trade deals or regulations could impact jobs in our backyard.

Hidden in a row of warehouses, one small business produces a big part of nearly every electronic device you own.

“Cellphone industry, satellites, military applications, sensors,” Ronnie Phelix rattled off a list.

He’s the general manager at Wafer World. It makes the silicon disks those electronics rely on.

“These are going to Rolex in Switzerland,” he pointed out on a tour of the West Palm Beach facility that employs about ten people. 

The raw materials behind each piece come from China. Current trade deals have allowed the company to stay in business for 21 years.

So as Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump prepare to meet in Palm Beach County, Phelix would love to be a fly on the wall of Mar-a-Lago.

“I’ve been very interested in seeing how those talks go,” he admitted.

Phelix said Wafer World has plans to expand into markets beyond simply silicon. Slight changes in trade deals could tilt the company toward continuing with that expansion, or reconsidering. 

“I’d show [President Trump] that small business is the backbone of America and we do need other countries to support us on that,” Phelix explained.

In downtown West Palm Beach, Kelly Smallridge is positive.

“Palm Beach County will definitely ride all of the waves President Trump brings to our area,” she said.

Smallridge is the director of the county’s Business Development Board. Her job is to lure businesses to Palm Beach County.

She said the attention this presidential visit places on the area could bring more opportunities for the people living here.

“With the ports and three international airports, we have the infrastructure here in South Florida to increase those ties to Chinese companies,” said Smallridge.