CEOs were asked: PortMiami was dredged three years ago at a cost of $205 million to accommodate mega ships. Now PortMiami, which had a record year in terms of cargo and passengers, wants to enlarge the port even more. Where do you stand?
We support this request and future initiative. It is a must-do. However, a delicate balance between the environment, ship access, and dual port use needs to be in harmony with the limited ingress and egress. Bigger port equals more business.
Jim Angleton, CEO for Aegis FinServ Corp.
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As a gateway to Central and South America and the Caribbean, South Florida relies heavily on its ports. These economic resources should be maintained to meet the growing demand but in an ecologically sound manner that does not threaten our environmental treasures, which in themselves support local industries and enrich our quality of life.
Wael Barsoum, M.D., CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic Florida
I am a supporter of a further expansion of PortMiami. When the original project was developed and approved, cargo and cruise ships where much smaller. Now that there has been significant consolidation in the shipping industry, much larger vessels are being utilized because they are more economical. This will not change in the future, so for the port to be competitive and attractive, it must be able to accommodate larger ships and more throughput. This project will generate billions of dollars over the years for our community and add jobs for South Florida residents. It will also promote more opportunities for new entrants to the cruise industry, like the recent Richard Branson/Virgin Voyages announcement.
Brett Beveridge, CEO and founder of The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC)
I am fine with this expansion and it is a main source of business and commerce in South Florida. I just know that small and minority businesses need to be given more opportunities to grow and be included in this next wave of growth. Presently, the Port’s record (the county’s for that matter) is abysmal on small business participation. The county’s own disparity study has not been fully activated to include a more stringent policy that would increase minority participation.
Bill Diggs, president, The Mourning Family Foundation
As a general matter, I am disposed in favor of spending money to improve infrastructure and give Miami a competitive advantage over other cities. As to this specific project, however, I would like to know the financial return we are getting on the $205 million that was already spent, and I would need to better understand the cost of the additional enlargement and anticipated benefits in terms of cargo and passengers.
Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties and Goldman Global Arts
Our seaport is the second largest economic engine in Miami-Dade County and plays a critical part in our continued economic development. Trade and the cruise industry are key parts of our economy and we need to ensure that the port remains competitive and accessible to new and larger ships. Thousands of jobs — direct and indirect — depend on it. At the same time, we need to ensure that any dredging is accomplished with minimal environmental impact.
Jorge Gonzalez, president and CEO, City National Bank
Increasing South Florida’s competitive edge in the marketplace is crucial for our economy. Expanding our ports gives local businesses faster and easier access to world markets. Like PortMiami, Port Everglades is embarking on a project to deepen the navigational channels into the port as well as add additional capacity, allowing Post-Panamax ships to visit the port fully loaded. It’s important that we support these infrastructure projects with nearby hotels, easy highway access, and smart rail access to move goods in and out of the ports. These important infrastructure projects help all of South Florida grow and attract new businesses. At the same time, there is a need for balance. Developments should not take place without evaluating the impact on the local community and environment.
Gregory Adam Haile, president of Broward College
We should continue to rely on public-private partnerships to drive the economic engines of the state. The port is a key tool for expanding trade and supporting economic growth in South Florida.
Louis Hernandez Jr., CEO of Black Dragon Capital
Cargo is the biggest economic engine at PortMiami and has a tremendous ripple effect throughout Miami-Dade County in transportation, warehousing and other fields. There is intense competition for this business, not only from ports on both Florida coasts and farther north, but from so-called “inland ports.” PortMiami must continue to expand and evolve or risk losing business to aggressive competitors.
Agostinho Alfonso Macedo, president and CEO of Ocean Bank
Provided that adequate steps are taken to assess and address the environmental and traffic impacts of the expansion of the Port of Miami, I would support efforts to enlarge the port. I think the port is an important contributor to the economy of South Florida.
Paul Singerman, co-chair of Berger Singerman
Most great international waterfront cities have a large, successful port. Yes, I do feel the port should continue its efforts to strategically expand. The more business it generates, the more money will filter down into our economy. There is a direct correlation to the increased tourism and international shipping businesses at PortMiami, to our strong local economy.
James “Jimmy” Tate, co-owner and president of TKA-Evolution Apparel and of Tate Capital, and co-founder of Tate Development Corp.
While I have an affinity for nature and the environment, we should also respect the concept of supply and demand. Based on our location and successful expansion efforts, Miami is quickly becoming known world-wide for entertainment, business, and travel. At this rate, Miami will eventually reach its capacity for enlarging the port. For now, Miami should entertain the thought of expansion. Currently, I have not seen enough data to persuade me one way or the other.
Dorcas L. Wilcox, CEO of Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services
PortMiami plays a critical role in South Florida’s economy. It is a major hub for commerce and tourism. Our unique eco-system also plays a critical role in our economy. It sustains us, draws tourism, and provides the amazing vistas that makes this a beautiful and inspiring place to live. As our cities grow and thrive, we must find solutions that allow for economic growth balanced with protecting our fragile environment.
Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts Tropical Florida
THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. RECENT QUESTIONS HAVE INCLUDED