This week’s question: South Florida's key industries of construction, retail, tourism and trade are showing early signs of weakening as economies abroad struggle. Do you think financial trouble in Latin America is slowing down growth in Miami-Dade and Broward?
The weakening of economies abroad has some impact, however the beautiful thing about Miami is that it is a global city that is not dependent on any single external market for its success. We are seeing this in the legal sphere where Miami is becoming an international legal hub.
Ramon Abadin, president, The Florida Bar, and partner, Sedgwick Law Firm
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I’m an entrepreneur, so I see things a bit differently. I don’t spend much time thinking about why those industries are slowing, I think about how we can add more industries and diversify Miami’s drivers of revenue and jobs. I think the technology and healthcare sectors are two huge new drivers of growth, and they should be supported.
Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos
Our residential real estate market is holding strong because international and domestic buyer demand is stable. More than 90 percent of the 1,600 condos that have delivered this cycle have been absorbed, according to the Miami DDA's (Downtown Development Authority) recent report. Another 3,000 units will deliver next year, which is a healthy number given historical trends. As demand levels-off, some developers are changing their plans, which should prevent oversupply. The real story is the strength of our Class A office market. With more and more companies entering the U.S. through Miami, and the economy gradually improving, office space is being absorbed and the need for new office development is coming into view.
Carol Brooks, president and co-founder, CREC (Continental Real Estate Companies)
We have certainly seen the impact of weakening economies in certain countries, such as Venezuela, on enrollment at our school. I am hopeful that recent political changes in some Latin/South American countries will be the catalyst for re-igniting stagnant economies.
Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, president, St. Thomas University
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are the three closest counties with vibrant commerce hubs interacting with South America. Any slowdowns in Brazil, Columbia or any other Latin American trade partner will definitely impact commerce in the tri-county area. However, I am hopeful that the world economy is improving and that as we grow our relationships with Latin American countries we will be able to capitalize as the world economy is recovering.
Nabil El Sanadi, CEO/president, Broward Health
We haven’t seen any significant slow down on the hospitality front. Miami International Airport continues to set records for international arrivals and the InterContinental Miami is running at record occupancy. Latin America – and Brazil in particular – continues to remain the top feeder market and we are seeing growth from other places, like Colombia, Germany and the UK.
Robert Hill, general manager, InterContinental Miami
There are definitely signs of weakening sectors, but this does not only pertain to Central and South America. We are also seeing weakened currencies in Europe and other countries. In the past, the more financial troubles that Central and South America faced, the better it was for our economy, as individuals wanted to invest in a safe haven. For example, they would purchase second or third homes here in the U.S. Presently, as economies change in these countries, so does their investment practices, as they search for more income-producing opportunities.
Miriam Lopez, president/chief lending officer, Marquis Bank
We are fortunate today that our local economy is influenced by several world economies, so I’m told that we are a bit more resistant to fluctuations in Latin America market than in the past. But, the fact is we are all interconnected so, depending on how much Latin American economies might struggle, we will feel it to some degree in Miami.
Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade
There is no question the South Florida economy benefits greatly from Latin American investment, business and tourism so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a slowdown there impacting the two counties. That being said, the economy is cyclical and Miami has previously shown it is a city capable of recovering quickly and prospering during tough economic times. I think the diversification and evolution Miami has seen since the last recession will provide a great buffer to any potential slowdown in growth.
Mike Parra, CEO, DHL Express U.S.
It’s inevitable that certain sectors will feel the pinch as economies abroad begin to slowdown, but keep in mind that not all sectors of the economy will be impacted. As far as we know, this slowdown will not be as severe as the last and I’m confident that Miami’s economy is well-equipped to handle this, just as it did during the most recent downturn. As a matter of fact, back then the Arsht Center experienced an increase in ticket sales in the first quarter of 2009. Despite changing economic times, I remain optimistic that Miamians will continue to support the arts.
M. John Richard, president, CEO, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
As the gateway to Latin America, South Florida is impacted by the financial trouble in Latin America, but we also benefit from it. When there is economic upheaval, the wealthy typically look abroad and for Latin Americans, that is South Florida. We are also fortunate to live in a city that is very resilient and where there is much that is in our favor. Miami had been known for real estate and hospitality, but there has been incredible growth in other sectors, including technology and venture capital. Miami ranks among the top 10 global centers for investment. I believe in a positive growth outlook for South Florida, so I do not believe that Latin America’s current financial troubles will slow down our growth.
Rachel Sapoznik, CEO & president, Sapoznik Insurance
Yes, Miami’s economy is largely influenced by the influx of Latin capital, especially in the real estate world. However, our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, and even the state as a whole is outpacing the national rate of economic growth. While there may be a bit of a slowdown in certain industries, I think our developing landscape will lead to positive economic growth in the long term.
Ginny Simon, founder, CEO, ginnybakes