Business Monday

Doral: a business hub that morphed from cow pastures to traffic jams

“When we decided to move the company headquarters to Doral in 1997, there were cow pastures everywhere,” said Joseph Roisman, executive vice president of Perry Ellis International. “Today, there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic.”

In 1997, Supreme International Corp., the apparel company that two years later became Perry Ellis, moved to 3000 NW 107th Ave., in Doral, leaving a crowded location in Miami east of the Palmetto Expressway.

Like many other domestic and international companies, Perry Ellis, which has about 500 employees in its imposing building, chose Doral because they needed space to expand, and the small community then dominated by pastureland offered ample, reasonably priced land. The area also had easy access to main thoroughfares like the Dolphin and Palmetto expressways and Florida’s Turnpike, as well as to Miami International Airport, the railroad and the Port of Miami.

Doral, incorporated as a city in 2003, today has an estimated 12,000 businesses in its 15-square-mile area, said Bettina Rodríguez Aguilera, former vice mayor of Doral and owner of Bettina Enterprises, a consulting firm.

“About 3,000 of these businesses are import/export related, and most Fortune 500 companies have operations here,” said Rodríguez Aguilera, a consultant to the Doral Business Council, which has about 600 members. The council provides networking and business intelligence services to the community and promotes trade and commerce.

Aside from Perry Ellis, Doral is home to large employers like Hellman Worldwide Logistics, Univisión, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Carnival Cruise Lines, Badia Spices, Telefutura, Gold Coast Beverage (Pepsi-Cola), Brinks, Walmart, Amadeus, PBS & J Engineering, and the Trump National Doral, which includes four golf courses, a luxury resort and spa.

The Miami Herald Media Co. moved its offices and printing plant to Doral from its former headquarters on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami two years ago.

The city also has attracted government organizations like the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Miami Branch, the United States Southern Command, the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Miami-Dade County Fire-Rescue Department.

Complicating traffic are the approximately 150,000 cars a day that carry people to jobs in Doral, some from other municipalities.

Among Doral’s businesses are 27 hotels that are almost fully occupied year round, Rodríguez Aguilera said.

In addition to the business council, there are about 30 business associations in the city, including the Doral Chamber of Commerce, which has more than 260 members, including large and small enterprises.

The city’s business population includes manufacturing firms, service companies, regional headquarters that oversee operations in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, restaurants, retail outlets and a host of other small and mid-sized businesses.

Many immigrants from Venezuela work in Doral and live in its upscale residential communities, prompting some to call the city “Doralzuela.”

One Doral businessman described his city as being located “between Trump and Venezuela.”

The writer can be reached at josephjmannjr@gmail.com.

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