Business Monday

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

DONNA ABOOD is principal and managing director of Avison Young, a global commercial real-estate firm.
DONNA ABOOD is principal and managing director of Avison Young, a global commercial real-estate firm.

This week’s question: What most surprised you about 2016?

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While Miami historically slows down from a business perspective in the summer months, for the past several years business continued at its torrid pace. However, this past summer was more reflective of our traditional commercial real estate cycle, slowing in the months of June through August to almost a complete halt. Despite an election year, activity has picked up significantly since the end of third quarter. I am so pleased for my peers and my company that we are all back at it!

Donna Abood, principal and managing director, Avison Young

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So many things surprised me... the political climate and outcomes thus far being one of the most significantly surprising things.

Adelee Cabrera, regional director, Starr Catering Group

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How Donald Trump evolved from a joke to become the President-elect of the United States. I had hoped that this year would bring us better nominees. Households were divided and there was so much vitriol. I would have liked to have seen our first female in the White House in 2017.

Laurie Kaye Davis, executive director, South Florida, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida

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The crudeness of our political discourse and failure to focus on the real issues that confront our communities.

Albert E. Dotson Jr., partner, Bilzin Sumberg

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Being a provider of healthcare, I was very surprised that premiums were set in a manner that were not adequate to meet the utilization of healthcare services under the exchange plans. As a result, many plans left the area while others increased premiums beyond the reach of the consumer. In other words, when the exchanges came into the market, there was a set price for all consumers regardless of precondition and age. Three years later, we are seeing the utilization of healthcare services higher than what the premium can support. As result, the pool of plans has decreased, leaving the consumer at a disadvantage or with limited options.

Aurelio M. Fernandez III, president and CEO, Memorial Healthcare System

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The adoption of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which ensures that all students are prepared for college and careers. This gives states and districts the necessary flexibility and creativity to ensure students receive a high-quality and well-rounded education.

Elaine Liftin, president and executive director, Council for Educational Change

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The presidential election has most surprised me this year. It has been absolutely surreal. Being a foreigner, the U.S. election cycle looks to me to be divisive, unclear and bordering on lunacy, which is not indicative to what I’ve come to know and love about the strength and solidarity of this country. Fortunately, it is almost over, and then we can focus on unifying again. The other real surprise has been the macroeconomic environment which doesn’t seem to be following old adages. Equities and real estate valuation are prime examples.

Diego Lowenstein, CEO, Lionstone Development

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That it has the dubious distinction of being the year America lost its mind politically.

Suzan McDowell, president and CEO, Circle of One Marketing

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The tone of this presidential election has been a significant surprise. If someone predicted a year ago that the campaign themes would be focused on sexual harassment, WikiLeaks, FBI email investigations, plagiarism of a speech by a candidate’s spouse, and allegations of voter fraud even before election day, I would have dismissed them as way off base. Beyond the sensational news stories the campaign has provided, it appears that this election will cause both political parties to rewrite the book on how they choose and support candidates.

Jay Pelham, president, TotalBank

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What most surprised me was the extent of the devastation our island neighbors and our own communities in the U.S. experienced due to Hurricane Matthew. Recovery is slow and many are yet displaced and suffering, especially in the island of Haiti. It is my hope that the Haitian people and all of the effected communities here on the U.S. and in the islands will recover swiftly.

Larry Rice, president, Johnson & Wales University North Miami Campus

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One of the things that has taken me back this year is the lack of respect for law enforcement. We live in a country where we value our freedoms and law enforcement has always been highly respected. Now, because of a few bad apples in law enforcement, its created a mass issue of disrespect across the country. If we don’t have safe cities and suburbs, then everyone will live in fear and communities and businesses will suffer.

Eddie Rodriguez, CEO, JAE Restaurant Group

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Despite a challenging economy, from a business aspect, Miami manages to stay ahead; on the philanthropy side, the community remains very committed to supporting the non-profit world.

Alex Rodriguez-Roig, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade

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The political environment is quite surprising, and something I hope our country never experiences again.

Vincent Signorello, president and CEO, Florida East Coast Industries

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The rise of such an angry and divisive political landscape. The group of people blaming the government for everything wrong in their lives took a very vocal, ugly turn.

John Tanzella, president and CEO, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

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The level of hostility from both sides of the voting population. More specifically, the level of vitriol we are seeing from Americans about our great country. I hope we all take a moment to be grateful and appreciate the privilege we all have to live in this great country.

Frank Vilar, president, OHL Arellano

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The U.S. economy’s slow growth. The domestic and emerging markets have finally started to pick up, but U.S. growth is slugging it out at a 2 percent growth rate, while India has been growing at 7.5 percent annually for the past few years. As a result, our wages have remained stagnant and businesses are struggling to maintain market share.

Faith Read Xenos, co-founding partner, Singer Xenos

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