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CEOs cite transportation, housing, visibility as factors to make South Florida a true tech hub

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This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: What does South Florida still have to do to meet its potential as a technology hub?

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To meet our potential as a technology hub, I believe Miami needs to continue to improve its transportation infrastructure by building additional lanes to assist with road congestion, as well as extending the Metrorail services into the southernmost region of the county (Florida City). As the population continues to increase, Miami-Dade County will need additional affordable housing options, as well as an increase of public services for the community.

Margaret “Peggy” Bass, executive director, Good Hope Equestrian Training Center

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Luring major tech companies to South Florida means creating new jobs at all points of the employment spectrum, and that brings a need for more attainable housing. The cost of developing affordable and market rate housing has grown exponentially as our regional real estate market has strengthened, and that has put a strain on the availability of housing. We can’t offer tech companies an opportunity to thrive and grow here if we cannot accommodate their employee base.

Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president, CEO, Carrfour Supportive Housing

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South Florida has to create more incentives and opportunities in order for entrepreneurs, companies and financiers to move into our region. We have a lot to offer, but we still fall short when it comes to collaboration spaces, incubators, large technology headquarters and curating spaces where innovation can flourish.

Jose R. Costa, CEO, For Eyes

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Expand and extend the investment and effort evident in Miami that is fostering tech entrepreneurs to Broward and Palm Beach.

Jerome Hutchinson Jr., managing partner, JHJ Marketing Group

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To prepare our workforce and facilitate access to capital to ensure we have a ready workforce and entrepreneurship opportunities for all residents. To accomplish this, we have to ensure that the investment necessary to insure the infrastructure, educational opportunities, mentoring, co-working and program space is accessible to all residents in every community and institution, including but not limited to, all of our public schools and community spaces.

Willie Logan, founder, CEO and president, Opa-locka Community Development Corp.

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In May 2017, South Florida was number 1 in the U.S. for new start-ups. Successful start-ups need teams of technology skilled workers. South Florida needs to connect the start-ups and established businesses with our universities and vocational technology training centers to create an ecosystem that teaches, trains, mentors, and ultimately hires, so that these start-ups and established businesses can scale with the right workforce.

Raymond Mobayed, owner, 4IT Inc.

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I think South Florida is already heading in that direction, hence why companies like Amazon want to come here. We have many technology companies here that are start-ups, and that’s how it all begins. As starter companies grow and create more and more innovative technology, South Florida can ultimately become an international tech hub too.

Gene Prescott, president and CEO, Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables

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Our spot on Amazon’s short list shows Miami is already well on its way toward becoming an international technology hub. That said, additional government incentives for start-ups and businesses, as well as further investment in our colleges, would go a long way. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that many of the world’s premier tech hubs (San Francisco, New York, etc.) have a significant head start.

Carlos Rosso, president, The Related Group’s Condominium division

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I have been to both Google and Facebook headquarters and you can just feel it in the air. The professionalism that surrounds their cities is like no other. Miami is close in becoming a major technology hub. The one big push would be if we did land the Amazon headquarters deal. It is also great to see the makings of the new Magic City District with art, entertainment and technology at its core. Our city is best known to cater to the traveler, arts, fashion and food scene, but we are lacking the focus on the technology scene. It is actually here and we just don’t see it. I can see the Magic City District, located just feet from my corporate headquarters, bringing tech to the forefront in Miami.

Stan Rudman, CMO and owner, Sportailor Inc.

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South Florida has become a breeding ground for start-ups and entrepreneurship, and as a result, a technology cluster is starting to take shape. In fact, this past year, Miami ranked as the number one city among the 40 largest metro areas in the U.S. for start-up activity by the Kauffman Foundation. But while the groundwork is being laid, we need to lure more venture capital to fund the big ideas coming out of this region. At the same time, we need to continue investing in the infrastructure that helps lure and keep top tech talent, such as public transit, quality education, affordable housing, parks and green space, and pedestrian-oriented streets.

Kim Stone, general manager and EVP, AmericanAirlines Arena

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The technology sector in South Florida needs more visibility and public relations. Most business people I speak with in Boston and Los Angeles (where we have offices) do not see Miami as a technology hub, despite the city’s accomplishments. More outreach and PR is needed.

Teri Williams, president, CEO and a director, OneUnited Bank

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In the fields of science and tech, as with other industries, it helps to reach a critical mass, which has not yet happened. We need to increase expertise in this sector for the universities to feed the tech ecosystem. The continued growth of innovation efforts originating in Miami will draw more candidates looking to invest their lives here. We need to retain our brain trust because now too many still leave for opportunities they can only see elsewhere.

Bernard Zyscovich, founder and CEO of Zyscovich Architects

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. RECENT QUESTIONS HAVE INCLUDED:

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