Tech scene throughout South Florida is building momentum

CEOs were asked: Miami has been attempting to upgrade its economy and put more resources into high-end professional services and tech. How do you see this transformation progressing?

We have not noticed any change at all. Attempting is one thing, successful implementation is another. We believe the middle markets need focus and attention. They demonstrate future uptick for growth, whereas the big businesses can only downtrend. Community leadership is not hitting the high notes needed to touch off any form of transformation.

It’s not just Miami that is experiencing gains in high-end professional services and tech. All of has seen positive growth in these areas, especially in tech and life sciences. Citrix Systems in Fort Lauderdale, Ultimate Software in Weston, Plantation-based Magic Leap, MAKO Surgical in Davie, and Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine are just a few contributing to the region’s role in advancing software development, augmented reality, and robotics. We are fortunate to have a robust higher education landscape to support these industries through workforce development.

Although we have had some impressive wins recently, like the largest e-commerce acquisition in history (Chewy.com’s $3.35 billion sale to PetSmart), the launch of Rokk3r labs $150M investment fund, Miami start-up Record Gram, and others, I don’t think we are progressing fast enough. It is one of the main reasons, if not the deciding factor, that lost our bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. We are slowly developing a reputation as an evolving hub for start-ups in tech and life sciences, but we need to have the talent pool in South Florida to increase our momentum for the long term. It is the chicken or egg dilemma. South Florida has so many advantages over other parts of the world that, with the right focus and exposure, we will succeed in developing, growing and retaining the professional talent pool required to make us the next tech hub in the U.S. It took N.Y. 10 years to do it, so a little patience is a virtue here.

There is a lot of buzz about that, but I am unaware if any of this is making its way into the daily businesses that call Miami home. And if it has, they have not shown themselves to be philanthropic and community-minded to the extent that I can see. If so, we would welcome them coalitions with us and other urban-based nonprofits. I have many ideas about creating tech- and vocational-based internships for our up-and-coming work force.

It’s been progressing for several years and many people don’t know it. Our diverse culture and proximity to Latin American has been a major draw for tech companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups. Being considered for Amazon’s HQ2 speaks volumes about what’s happening in our community. The fact that companies like Google, Twitter and Uber have made Miami their U.S. and Latin American headquarters also underscores this trend.

This year, Florida’s economy hit the GDP milestone of one trillion-dollars. The increasing number of construction projects, thriving tourism industry, and expanding

ports, are indications that the South Florida economy is doing well. In addition to this, South Florida has become the top entrepreneurial area in the USA. In fact, mirroring this finding is the Kauffman Foundation that lists our metropolitan area #1 for new business creation. Importantly, Broward College has programs that feed top notch students into high-end professional service areas and, to support the wave of entrepreneurship and technological advancement, we also have entrepreneurial programs which mentor and assist our students in developing and starting new businesses, while encouraging leadership in the tech revolution.

This has been a goal of many regions for decades. I think Miami has made much more progress than other regions we invest in and should continue to make this a priority.

We’ve seen strong growth in professional services and commercial loans over the past several years. As these sectors continue to evolve in Miami, I hope to see the loan volume increase.

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