Miami's best and brightest shown a shining economic future
By Michael Lewis
Economic engines purred in harmony Saturday, an antidote to any post-holiday depression, as 100-some future leaders heard our economy's workhorses paint a glittering word panorama of Miami's future.
The audience was Leadership Miami, young executives who, under the auspices of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, prepare themselves for starring roles in the area's future.
Speaking on the north end of downtown amidst towering cranes, Dana Nottingham, executive director of Miami's Downtown Development Authority, noted the authority's highflying goal of supercharging downtown's $8 billion tax base to reach $22 billion by 2015.
Much of the growth will come from outside, said Holly Wiedman, executive vice president of the county's development partnership, the Beacon Council. She noted that the council's 97 company expansion and retention projects we'd reported Thursday had inched up to 98 — totaling 63 potential new businesses. We won't lure them all, but more keep looking at us.
Florida's job growth is so great, said Manny Mencia, Enterprise Florida's senior vice president of international trade and business development, that the state is trying to channel it into high-wage, high-tech industries — knowledge-based jobs. We're already fourth in the US in high-tech establishments and employment, he told the young executives.
Luring those jobs may be easier than keeping them, said one Leadership participant who fears his employer, a long-time biomedical leader, may exit because it can't keep key executives or find new ones. His boss, he said, just headed for San Francisco and a co-worker is Boston-bound.
Ms. Wiedman acknowledged difficulties, saying it's far easier to recruit from abroad — where Miami is seen as a business hub — than in the US, which doesn't take us as seriously.
But, she said, the Beacon Council is reaching out to our high-tech and biomed companies, helping them recruit — even flying to other cities to speak with clusters of potential employees about Miami's advantages.
While the Beacon Council's No. 1 challenge remains the business image of Miami, she said, with the famed Scripps Research Institute coming to the region and the rising stature of the University of Miami and Florida International University, biomed firms "from all over the world are looking at Miami in a whole different way than they did five years ago."
Such companies now know they need to be here, she said, though they face cost-of-living and housing-affordability hurdles — a thought Mr. Nottingham echoed.
Magnets that bring global business also lure global travelers — 5.2 million of them among the county's 11.3 million overnight visitors last year, said David Whitaker, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Those magnets, he said, go beyond weather to include shopping, which 22% cite as a factor in coming here, and nightlife.
As in the rest of our economic engine, the visitor industry has gears that need oiling. Mr. Whitaker pointed to the need for high-quality customer service, long our Achilles' heel.
But Miami's glass is far, far more than half-full, the panelists agreed. Visitors last year probably set a record, Mr. Whitaker said. For the first time in memory, Miami is at virtually full employment, Mr. Mencia noted.
In fact, Mr. Mencia says the big story is that in less than two generations, Miami has emerged as one of the world's great business centers while Florida as a whole went from "the state of the newly wed and the nearly dead" to become what, standing alone, would be the world's 17th- or 18th-largest national economy.
Such skyrocketing takes a toll — transportation crunches, housing prices, infrastructure that trails growth.
But on Saturday morning, the story was of superb market position and a sparkling future — as it should be before bright young executives who are destined to keep the sparkle bright when the future becomes the present.
Citrix moves Latin headquarters to Gables
By Risa Polansky
Software company Citrix Systems completed a move of its Latin American and Caribbean headquarters from Fort Lauderdale to Coral Gables this week, relocating its executive team, call center and operations.
As the Latin American and Caribbean division began to outgrow the company's corporate headquarters in Broward County — sales in the region increased 150% in the past five years — "we saw that as an opportunity for the Latin American team to move closer to the center of gravity of Latin American business," said Fernando Campo, vice president for Citrix Latin America and the Caribbean.
The new offices, 2525 Ponce de LeÛn Ave., are "close to the airport, close to key alliance partners and close to the regional headquarters for some of our large, multinational customers," Mr. Campo said.
Forty Citrix employees are based in the local office. "The team here in the Gables is going to continue growing as the business grows," Mr. Campo said. "It could easily double in size during the next four years."
More than 180,000 organizations worldwide use Citrix software, according to a company press release. The company generated $1.1 billion in revenue last year.
Citrix' Latin American and Caribbean division in the past two years has introduced several information-technology infrastructure and information-sharing products to the region, Mr. Campo said. As the need for more remote technology in the area grows, "we are very committed to Latin America and the Caribbean and plan to keep investing in the region."
The move to Miami-Dade County will "continue the trajectory we have been in," he said. "In this region, the growth is there, the opportunity is there, and we're investing so we can capture it."
Miami is becoming the east coast Hollywood. So much movies and shows being filmed and produced here and not to mention music videos.:banana:Homestead Commerce Group LLC hopes to build a movie-production studio on 10 acres of Park of Commerce land.
HERES THE START TO MIAMI'S MOVIE PRODUCTION BUSINESS SOON THEY WILL BE POPPING UP EVERYWHERE IN HOMESTEAD.
That used to be Ivan Tors studios years ago (the people that did "Flipper").i think there's more than one... there's a big one on ne 16th ave just south of 123st
Wow...what a great idea!! We should send our city officials back to school. Whatta think, we've got all this water, why not put a Cruise ship or two in the water?Miami has a huge potenatial in tourism. If the city officals are smart, they could make a fortune from tourism just like Las Vegas did.