The promise of eMerge

TECH TITANS: eMerge founder Manny Medina and rapper Pitbull get ready to ring the bell for the closing of NASDAQ Monday on Miami Beach.
TECH TITANS: eMerge founder Manny Medina and rapper Pitbull get ready to ring the bell for the closing of NASDAQ Monday on Miami Beach. Miami Herald Staff

The Miami Beach Convention Center is brimming with some 10,000 entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts, start-up innovators — and star power, of course — along with the megacompanies that covet their ingenuity. They are all intent on changing the game and changing lives. That eMerge Americas has been such a success matters to all of us. It stands to create a new stream of money that will flow into Miami-Dade County.

As the millennial-friendly conference closes Tuesday, greater Miami owes a debt of gratitude to all who attended and to former Terremark developer Manny Medina, who shepherded eMerge into existence. In just two years, his commitment and determination have doubled the conference’s attendance and boosted its prestige.

Mr. Medina is a pioneer in establishing our city as a technology hub, and the event attracts thousands of industry insiders from throughout the hemisphere. We commend Mr. Medina for his vision and his drive.

This is not just any conference on Miami Beach — though all are welcome. This community is hosting a potential cog in our financial future.

And we desperately need it to create jobs — the coveted high-paying ones that this industry brings. We need it because our traditional money-making attractions of sun and sand may not be enough anymore. Miami-Dade needs more economic engines, and no industry is more promising than new technology.

Make no mistake, making money is the goal for many attending eMerge, envisioning the next big thing and capitalizing on it. But changing the world for the better is its co-equal mission.

Mr. Medina’s goal is to turn Miami into a petri dish for start-ups, Ground Zero for the tech scene in the South and far beyond. In many ways, the Knight Foundation, and its strategically placed grants, has long nourished tech start-ups and laid the groundwork for eMerge’s success.

The conference is a platform for thousands of innovative entrepreneurs from throughout the United States and Latin America. Attendees are decidedly young and entrepreneurial, millennials who see no need to wear a suit and tie to this conference because they don’t need such old-school trappings when they’ve got the ingenuity. They are the ones who come up with transformative ideas, creating, for instance, the ride-sharing industry that has revolutionized how people get from Point A to Point B. (It’s unfortunate that Miami-Dade and Broward counties have done little but throw roadblocks in the paths of such services. It’s a regressive stance, which they should abandon.)

And there’s a new potential marketplace 90 miles away. Famed blogger Yoani Sánchez was among the panelists at eMerge. “This is the year Cuba joins the Internet,” Ms. Sánchez told the audience. What impact will that have on South Florida?

Hometown rapper Pitbull, who considers himself an entrepreneur and techie businessman, was there.

Even NASDAQ rang the closing bell for the first time ever from Miami, a recognition that corporate America is on board. And U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro gave the keynote address.

In this new brave world of business, tapping into a market need and turning your start-up into a multimillion dollar company is success.

“eMerge is an open platform; it’s your platform,” Mr. Medina told those attending. Better yet, Miami is the platform on which so much of this innovation firmly stands.