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If the economy falters, local companies are prepared

South Florida CEOs were asked: Various indicators are now showing signs that a downturn may be ahead. What would this look like for your organization? More broadly, what are your greatest concerns for the local economy in the event of a downturn?
South Florida CEOs were asked: Various indicators are now showing signs that a downturn may be ahead. What would this look like for your organization? More broadly, what are your greatest concerns for the local economy in the event of a downturn? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: Various indicators are now showing signs that a downturn may be ahead. What would this look like for your organization? More broadly, what are your greatest concerns for the local economy in the event of a downturn?

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Our company thrived during the last recession because we had carefully planned for both the good and bad times, and even in a downturn, clients will need our services. Business will still need audits and individuals will need tax returns, for example. I am concerned about the loss of jobs, as we saw very high unemployment rates last time, but, overall, the economy does have room to flex in a downturn

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)

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We started our business in a downturn in 2009. And as a company, we weather downturns well because we offer inexpensive ways to enjoy a gourmet food experience. More people cook at home and adding an exotic spice or unique seasoning blend is affordable whatever the economy.

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab

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We have a global footprint innovating in the medical sector. We are developing a new surgical platform called incision-less surgery. We have identified over 150 procedures. Our initial target is brain disorders, such as Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s. The building out of our technology requires a large capital investment that if successful has the potential to help millions of lives. I don’t see us slowing down even in a downturn of the economy.

Maurice R. Ferré, CEO, chairman, INSIGHTEC

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Stantec provides services in five business operating units: Buildings, energy and resources, environmental services, infrastructure, and water. This diversification, in addition to our geographic reach, helps us mitigate risk and makes us more resilient to economic cycles. When the economy does turn downward in Miami, like many others in a corporate leadership, I am concerned about unemployment, inflation and retaining talent at all levels.

Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec

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Anyone who lived through our last economic crisis can do the math: New condo inventories are saturated yet new condo construction cranes still dot our skyline. As an investment immigration law firm, our job is to advise high net worth foreign investors on where in the U.S. to invest, so our practice itself would not be adversely affected by a local economic downturn. But it would mean that instead of steering them with confidence to invest in South Florida, we would need to point them toward other U.S. communities with more accountable government, responsible stewardship of public funds and a history of visible commitments to improving the lives of their residents.

José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw

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Although Miami’s economy is resilient, a downturn would hurt small businesses disproportionately, which make up the bulk of our employers. Interestingly enough, our events that focus on matching minority businesses with government agencies, educational and healthcare institutions and large corporations are better attended during a downturn because more companies are trying to identify new customers.

Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

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Miami Business School offers a balanced and diversified portfolio of programs to cushion our revenues against economic ups and downs. When the economy is strong, applications for full-time MBAs soften as potential students don’t want or need to take time out. But on-line, part-time degree programs and non-degree executive education do well. The trend lines flip when there’s a downturn. Likewise, interest in our MS in Finance rises when the markets are buoyant, but interest in our MS in Accounting picks up when there’s a downturn. Our local economy is well-diversified but tourism and real estate, two important sectors, are vulnerable in a recession. Healthcare and education, on the other hand, tend to remain robust.

John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor

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Education has historically been a counter-cyclical industry, as many use a downturn as a catalyst to retrain. However, as many of our students depend on private lenders to fund their courses, we are concerned about the impact that lack of funding could have on student enrollment. This, in turn, could impact the city’s ability to continue developing middle and advanced talent that increases Miami’s median income.

Ariel Quiñones, co-founder, Ironhack

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For nearly 20 years, our business has endured down cycles in the economies of South Florida, the U.S., and the globe. Because many of the clients we serve are small local and small international businesses, any economic downturn tends to be very difficult for them. The advantage of our particular business is the ability to offer cost-effective options. Shared Class A office space, including access to office and legal support services, can provide a way for companies to lower their operating expenses without sacrificing image or client service. More broadly, any serious downturn results in business closures and layoffs, which take years for our local economy to recover from — the 2008 recession being a tragic and still-too-fresh example.

Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge

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While the capital markets are flashing some warning signs, main street economy is still thriving. So there is a bit of a disconnect. As a bank, we are monitoring and evaluating these indicators and have to remain vigilant in the event of a downturn. If and when it comes, strong banks, like ours, will differentiate themselves by the quality of the balance sheet they have created.

Rajinder Singh, chairman, president, CEO, BankUnited

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. Meet the current members of the roundtable.

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RECENT QUESTIONS TO THE ROUNDTABLE HAVE INCLUDED:

▪ CEOs consider whether Miami is the ideal spot for a soccer team and stadium

▪ CEOs are planning for climate change and sea-level rise

▪ Efforts to boost low wages may ease affordability crisis

▪ Local and state governments must do more to address affordable housing

▪ Find your passion and own your career path, CEOS tell job seekers

▪  Here’s how CEOs would advise a high school senior class on its last day

▪ South Florida CEOs offer suggestion to address America’s student loan debt

▪ Supervisors often were the greatest influence on CEOs’ careers

▪ CEOs address Miami’s racial wealth gap

▪ CEOs discuss transforming healthcare in America

▪ Is the job market as good as it gets?

▪ CEOs split on encouraging marijuana sales in Florida

▪ Unlocking state funds for affordable housing is the right move, CEOS said

▪ CEOs try to lasso healthcare costs, but more needs to be done

▪ CEOs agree that tax breaks are needed to lure businesses to Florida

▪ Technology led to significant changes in 2018 for most CEOs

▪ What are CEOs doing to attract and retain workers?

▪ Most CEOs say salaries will increase in 2019

▪ Most CEOs are in ‘growth mode’ with plans to hire more

▪ CEOs’ 2019 economic forecast offers differing views

▪ How CEOs are trying to attract ‘Generation Z’

▪ Most CEOs say PortMiami should expand more, without hurting the fragile eco-system

▪ Should financial institutions reach more ‘unbanked’ people?

▪ Tech scene throughout South Florida is building momentum

▪ CEOs discuss their top workforce challenges for 2019

▪ The best gift? Even for the most successful people, life is about more than business

▪ Recession ahead? CEOs divided on whether they see signs of one

▪ CEOs: Amazon’s strong look at Miami for HQ2 made the region look hard at itself

Biggest influence on CEOs’ careers? Most say it was a parent

▪ Jobs available? CEOs look at their companies

▪ CEOs keep an eye on Miami’s cost of living

The key to retaining employees? Start with good pay and benefits

▪ Live-work-play? More employees opt to live closer to workplaces

Some CEOs say they’ve raised wages this year

▪ Here are some issues CEOs hope lawmakers keep top-of-mind this election year

CEOs offer varying opinions on higher education

▪ Local firms are doing their part to be more eco-friendly

▪ CEOs are all smiles thanks to local economic boom

Is work-life balance a myth? CEOs share their thoughts

▪ CEOs help employees stsruggling with long commutes

▪ Despite airline woes, CEOs are not changing traveling habits

▪ CEOs have diverse opinions on Trump’s tariffs and other actions

▪ CEOs feel pressure to keep wages competitive

▪ South Florida CEOs say that Miami can sustain David Beckham’s soccer team

▪ CEOs hope common-sense control on assault rifles happens soon

▪ Will Amazon open HQ2 in Miami? Maybe, maybe not, but city’s profile rises, CEOs say

▪ We have much to learn about public transit from other cities, CEOs say

CEOs: Cuban coffee, flexibility and beach picnics help employees balance job demands

CEOs discuss how to deal with extreme views in the workplace

▪ Extra guards, added security measures protect staff and clients

▪ As automation advances, CEOs say humans are still needed

▪ Holiday parties celebrate employees and the year’s successes

These CEOs have zero tolerance for sexual harassment

Will automation change your job? Yes — and no, CEOs say

▪ How CEOs address hostility in the workplace

▪ Good storm planning can stave off disruptions, CEOs find

Storms highlighted serious local issues, CEOs say

▪ Planning, preparation are keys to disaster recovery, CEOs say

▪ CEOs say students who improve certain skills are better prepared for future jobs

▪ Uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act on the minds of CEOs

▪ In a year of challenges, CEOs took risks, learned and grew

▪ CEOs believe community should be involved in making public schools better

▪ Best bosses we ever had inspired, challenged and cared, say South Florida CEOs

▪ South Florida CEOs try to evaluate the nation’s top CEO: President Trump

▪ CEOs’ advice to college students: Network! Internships! Research!

▪ Affordable housing a cause of concern for CEOs

▪ Communication, cool heads key to avoiding public relations nightmares

▪ Meet the new Miami Herald CEO Roundtable

▪ Ahh, the first job. CEOs learned valuable lessons on the bottom rung

▪ It’s getting harder for employees and CEOs to disconnect while on vacation

▪ Florida’s legislators must act on economy and education, CEOs say

Most CEOs provide paid internships, and everyone benefits

Local firms rich in generational immigrants, CEO say, but deportation efforts worry some

Long hours at the office? CEOs say how they avoid burnout

CEOs prefer balance when dealing with a defiant employee

The most important issue facing South Florida this year? CEOs say it’s traffic

Have you been to Cuba? CEOs discuss business and travel opportunities on the island

CEOs discuss their resolutions for the New Year

CEOs: Trump, ugly politics among the biggest surprises of 2016

CEOs’ top request for Trump’s first 100 days: ‘Unity’

CEOs won’t tolerate ugly comments in the workplace

CEOs assess South Florida’s economy for 2017

Did Obamacare hurt your business? South Florida CEOs respond

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