At Miami chamber goals conference, Cuba is the word

Business opportunities resulting from the thaw with Cuba were on the agenda during the second day of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s annual goals conference Friday.

“I think Cuba will one day turn out to be something absolutely spectacular,” said Pedro Freyre, chair of Akerman’s International Practice. “Cuba is Miami’s to lose. We are the natural link, with all due respect to our cousins in Tampa. We are the logical connection to Cuba.”

Freyre and other panelists at the conference panel said Miami needs to take advantage of its proximity to Cuba as the country opens for new business opportunities. Kai Peter Schoenhals Garcia, a director at asset management firm VICINI, said doing business in Cuba will take time and will present a number of obstacles, but Miami businesses should explore their options now.

“Don’t go all-in in Cuba,” Garcia said. “But you’ve got to put some chips in in order to be invited to the game.”

As for human rights issues, panelists said business cannot wait for political change in Cuba.

“It will take a while for Cuba to become the Cuba that we want,” Freyre said.

Held at the Miami Hilton Downtown, the conference ended Friday afternoon. Approximately 1,000 people attended over the two days.

Capping the event was the chamber’s annual Good to Great awards, given to transformational companies. This year’s winners: Metro 1 (1-50 employees); Modernizing Medicine (51-249 employees); The Related Group (250-999 employees) and Scribe America (1000+ employees.)

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