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?
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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