This week’s question: In your opinion, what was the biggest business story or trend in South Florida in 2015?
Brazil’s political and economic instability. While Miami’s global diversity is our strength, Brazil is still our largest trading partner.
Ramon Abadin, president, The Florida Bar, and partner, Sedgwick Law Firm
The emergence of a huge tech ecosystem in South Florida. Travel and Tourism are the golden goose for this area, yet like financial matters, Miami must diversify it’s revenue streams. Healthcare and technology are two sectors that are growing rapidly, pay well, and can have a transformational affect on this region.
Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos
The significant investment in the region’s retail real estate market, with a number of blockbuster transactions taking place. From new mega malls announced to major acquisitions of existing shopping centers and luxury brands entering the market, Miami has become a global shopping destination.
Carol Brooks, president and co-founder, CREC (Continental Real Estate Companies)
One of the biggest business stories of 2015 was the admission by Volkswagen that they misrepresented the fuel efficiencies of their vehicles. I believe the way the company dealt with the crisis was appropriate and transparent. The public was made aware and a campaign was launched to regain the trust of all Volkswagen consumers. The management and leadership should be commended for taking such an approach.
Nabil El Sanadi, CEO/president, Broward Health
2015 saw heightened volatility in our chief feeder market of Latin America and throughout the global economy, and yet Miami’s economy is proving resilient. Our tourism numbers are up, multinational firms are investing billions here, and there is a growing sense that we are a safe investment for the world.
Robert Hill, general manager, InterContinental Miami
The most talked about story in South Florida in 2015 was David Beckham’s soccer stadium. “Will it be built? Where will it be built? Who should/shouldn’t get involved?” It’s been interesting to follow this story, and I think a soccer stadium in Overtown, should it actually happen, would be a great step in the right direction for the revitalization of the neighborhood. I guess we will all have to stay tuned in 2016 to see how everything plays out!
Miriam Lopez, president/chief lending officer, Marquis Bank
It has to be Miami’s continued growth as an international city and destination for business. In 2015, Miami was a top location for international investment, tech growth and tourists, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
Mike Parra, CEO for DHL Express Americas
Clearly, limited public transportation and rising sea levels were the most prominent South Florida issues of 2015 — and I believe they will continue to be top of mind in 2016. Traffic problems limit our city’s ability to grow and attract new business and keep local talent from relocating. Rising sea levels are having a profound impact on our city, but more so on coastal communities like Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, which depend on the tourism industry. The Arsht Center — which is located in a flood zone — also experiences the impact of heavy rainfall, causing us to take special measures to make our venues safely accessible.
M. John Richard, president, CEO, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
There were many important story lines in 2015 that impacted South Florida. The one that stands out the most to me is the South Florida pre-construction condo boom in the real-estate market. Anyone living in the tri-county area has seen the massive construction projects, especially East of I-95. With foreign investment pouring in for most of the year and low mortgage rates, South Florida real estate boomed. The large inventory of foreclosed properties has diminished, median home prices went up and the rental market gained momentum. However, the fourth quarter started showing signs of a slowdown and growing anxiety regarding the condo market, which will most certainly impact South Florida in 2016.
Rachel Sapoznik, CEO & president, Sapoznik Insurance
I think the biggest trend in 2015 was the rise of artisanal, hand-crafted products and locally produced goods. From Zak the Baker’s breads to cocktails by Gabe and Elad of Bar Lab, lots of higher quality, smaller batch operations are growing in popularity. I’m thrilled at this development; it rewards talent, attention and care, and it’s beneficial to our community in countless ways.
Ginny Simon, founder, CEO, ginnybakes