Trade between Florida and Britain amounts to an estimated $2.6 billion a year — a fact that business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic say is reason to celebrate.
The second annual BritWeek Miami will do just that, toasting the economic partnership along with nods to British food, culture, entertainment.
“The weather is getting very British around here, so I think that’s a sign we’re off to a good start,” Kevin McGurgan, Britain’s consul general in Miami, joked about Thursday’s gray skies. “This week really is a wonderful celebration of the business, cultural, entrepreneurial and creative links that exist between Miami and all parts of Britain.”
BritWeek, which runs through Wednesday, kicked off Thursday night with a private gala at downtown Miami’s Viceroy Hotel to highlight business innovation. McGurgan presented Marcelo Claure, CEO of Miami-Dade’s Brightstar Corp. and an investor in David Beckham’s bid to bring a pro soccer team to Miami, with a special recognition award for Claure’s contributions to UK and U.S. economies.
“He is someone who understands from top to bottom how the global economy is shaping up,” McGurgan said of Claure. “He is also a great philanthropist and an extremely passionate person.”
Other BritWeek Miami events include professional networking socials, a global-business conference at PortMiami and a performance of Monty Python’s Spamalot in Coral Gables.
The $2.6 billion bilateral trade between Britain and Florida comes mainly from aerospace, medical, military equipment and supply chains, according to UK Trade & Investment. The government agency notes that 340 British-affiliated companies operate in Florida, many of which have Latin America hubs in Miami, including Diageo, Barclays and EMI Music.
The British also have an effect on Florida real estate: The Association of Realtors said that UK buyers represented 6 percent of all foreign sales of Florida homes in 2013. Realtors, developers, investors and BritWeek VIPs will rub elbows during a street party of sorts Friday night at the sales center for the under-construction, British-inspired Bond on Brickell condominium.
Founded in California in 2007, BritWeek is a nonprofit organization that will give a portion of proceeds from BritWeek Miami events to Little Dreams Foundation, musician Phil Collins’ South Florida-based charity.