Business Monday

Sand, nightlife contribute to faulty views of Miami, CEOs say

ADES
ADES

The question: What is the most common misconception you hear about “Miami"?

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[That] Miami is a “shallow city” with a party culture. In fact, Miami is an incredibly diverse city with museums and performing art centers, with an outdoor and environmentally conscious community that takes advantage of our amazing geography.

Daniel Ades, managing partner, Kawa Capital Management

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People joke that Miami is the Latin American city closest to the United States. However, Miami entrepreneurs are showing the nation how to create an “international” city positioned to take advantage of today’s global marketplace.

Christine Barney, CEO, RBB Communications

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The most common misconception I hear about Miami is that it not a cultural city. This was the case years ago, but with Art Basel having put Miami on the map internationally and the many performing arts events at the Adrienne Arsht Center, this has changed.

Richard Behar, founder and president, Capital Clothing Corp.

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I’m always surprised to hear that people still think of high crime and lack of Fortune 500 presence when they think about Miami, which is simply inaccurate. Miami is, in fact, very safe and filled with corporate headquarters for many of the top companies across several key industries, both international- and domestic-facing.

Carmen Castillo, president and CEO, SDI International

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The most common misconception I hear about Miami is that our condominiums are empty and that we are overbuilding. In fact, total occupancy is north of 97 percent and the city is growing at a staggering pace with no signs of slowing. We are a global destination at every level, including business, technology, education, the arts and entertainment.

Alice Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner, Cervera Real Estate

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That Miami is solely beaches and nightlife. We are so much more. We are home to many international businesses and a growing tech industry. We are also a cultural hub for art, music and literature. Visitors may first be enticed by our sun and surf, but it is our thriving commerce and culture that keeps them here.

Jonathan Chariff, CEO, South Motors

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The most common misconception I hear is that no one in Miami is from Miami. While that may be true for 60 percent of the population, the shrinking 40 percent population that are native Miamians should get credit for maintaining an attractive environment that tourists want to visit and never leave. The population explosion in Miami is as much a product of the conservationists preserving our beautiful land as it is of the natural land and seascapes.

Pandwe Gibson, executive director, EcoTech Visions

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The most common misconception about Miami is that it is one dimensional; a beach playground with Latin influences. This is a beautiful distinction, but what many don’t know is that Miami has developed into a cosmopolitan, multi-faceted global city poised to become one of the world’s most desirable places to live, work and play.

Julie Grimes, managing partner, Hilton Bentley Hotel

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That it’s all about hedonism and little else. A couple of years ago, a taxi driver in Paris asked where I was from and, upon hearing it, he said, “Miami, that’s a party city, isn’t it?” Naturally, I corrected him.

Victor Mendelson, co-president, HEICO

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Some people still look at Miami and see sand and surf, but we’ve evolved to become a global destination for business, arts, cuisine, shopping and finance. Downtown is leading this resurgence along with neighborhoods like Wynwood, Midtown, the Design District, Coconut Grove and Little Havana.

Nitin Motwani, managing principal, Miami Worldcenter Associates

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The scarcity of top management talent is the biggest misconception I hear about Miami. The reality is, finding top management talent is hard everywhere — not just Miami. Companies that design structures that align compensation to performance and build fantastic corporate cultures through a mission-minded vision, are the companies that win out in attracting and retaining the “A Players.”

Abe Ng, founder and CEO of Sushi Maki

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Miami is often perceived as one dimensional, a city with beautiful beaches, plenty of leisure activities and a vibrant night life. But Miami offers a lot more than that. We have a booming community with thought leaders from around the world.

Todd Orestsky, co-founder, Pipeline Brickell

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That it lacks depth, across several areas, specifically in regard to the lack of intellectual stimulation, and the misconception that we lack a vibrant arts and culture scene. The pejorative term “Flori-duh” comes to mind. There are a lot of opportunities for intellectual stimulation in Miami, and Miami Dade College has made a concerted effort to offer accessible, affordable, arts and cultural programming to our community. A few examples of this programming include world-class events such as the Miami Book Fair International, Miami International Film Festival and MDC Live Arts. We also bring top-notch speakers to the community, and host an array of expos, conferences and lectures in areas ranging from technology and social media to entrepreneurship, sustainability and civic engagement.

Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade College

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There is a lingering perception that there’s no spirit of innovation in our business community — that the Miami tech scene is just “hype” surrounding the “real” industries of real estate, tourism and nightlife. That’s not the case! Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is full of pioneering people and creative organizations who are developing disruptive technology and building valuable companies

Joanna Schwartz, CEO and co-founder, EarlyShares

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This is a tough question because I believe the answer will be generationally driven. Miami has change dramatically over the last 30 years so there are numerous misconceptions. Everything from the image of Miami Vice, Miami Beach night life to its “a separate country.” The reality is that Miami is a highly diverse community that offers maybe the widest spectrum of cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities in the country.

Dave Seleski, president and CEO, Stonegate Bank

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Language barrier to being a great world class city. Miami is truly a melting pot and reflects the prototypical city of the future. That's why we have been and are booming.

Darryl K. Sharpton, president and CEO, The Sharpton Group

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The most common misconception is that Miami pales in comparison to other major U.S. business centers. Miami is an oasis for entrepreneurs, with a geographic and cultural advantage that continues to attract North-South investment from across the Americas. Foreign capital continues to drive significant deal activity, and the city is growing into a world-class center for international arbitration. Miami also is one of the top gateway cities for real estate investment in the U.S., and the urban core is home to a fast-growing tech start-up community. These influences continue to spread across Florida while the financial services, healthcare and life sciences sectors fuel further activity in the region.

Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO, Akerman LLP

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People often think Miami is just a party place with not much intellectual depth, or that we are living in the 1980s Miami Vice environment; glamorous but dangerous. They are often very surprised to discover what a really green place the city is, the beauty beyond just the sun and sea.

Gillian Thomas, president and CEO, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

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Being from Texas, one of the biggest misconceptions I hear about Miami is that it’s a wealthy person’s playground, a paradise where poverty does not exist. Although Miami is a paradise, and a lot of wealthy people do live and play here, poverty does exist in Miami. Over 23.4 percent of Miami’s residents live at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level. Poverty level means an individual who makes less than $14,713 per year (add $5,200 per additional family member) or a family of four which makes less than $30,313 per year.

Paco Velez, CEO, Feeding South Florida

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That it’s all fun in the sun and we don’t have culture.

Alina Villasante, founder, Peace Love World clothing

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The most common misconception about Miami is that it consists of Miami Beach/South Beach.

Marlon Williams, founder and CEO, Fenero

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I think that there are a lot of stereotypes and clichés about Miami that color peoples’ perceptions. Many of those are outdated. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time here knows that Miami is one of the most-dynamic cities in the world and is still emerging.

John Wood, president, Amicon Construction

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