By: Claudia Repsold
Few cities around the world changed at the pace that Miami did in the last decade. What is most impressive about Miami is not its ever-evolving Skyline, which has become the third largest in the country; but it is its ability to endlessly reinventing itself.
For decades Miami was synonymous with unbridled partying and sun worshiping, but the city transformed itself into a multifaceted destination with global appeal. Some events held in the city, undeniably, help bring a whole new crowd to the place. It is notorious that the Art Basel placed Miami on the map of the sophisticated art’s circuit, bringing to the city people who otherwise would never have come.
Another event that helped bring a different crowd to Miami, is the tech conference; Emerge Americas. Over the past five years, the conference has become the missing link connecting the tech industry to the amazing array of diverse talents the city offers. Miami is today the # 1 Startup Capital in United States, surpassing Austin, Texas in the number of startups created in the city annually.
Miami is no longer just the gateway for Latinos, the county has a population larger than other 16 American states. Once again, the Brazil & U.S Biz spoke with the mayor Carlos Gimenez about the future of the city, the participation of the Brazilian community in shaping it and the importance of immigrants to the local economy.
Brazil & U.S Biz: Miami is a largely international city, home to a globalized and diverse population. The local economy is deeply intertwined with foreigners who, by feeling welcome, invest in the city. But this new political landscape ruled by anti-immigrant rhetoric has created some discomfort among foreigners. Do you think this could affect the economy of Miami-Dade County?
Mayor Gimenez: No, I don’t think so. I think is just a “feeling” but nothing has changed. Miami continues to be an international city, diversified and globalized. I, myself, I’m an immigrant. My family came to the United States when I was just 7 years old. This is the root of this country and that has not changed. And I believe, it never will.
Brazil & U.S Biz: How important is the Brazilian community for Miami-Dade’s economy?
Mayor Gimenez: The Brazilian community is very important not only to Miami-Dade but to the whole Florida. Brazil remains of one the top Florida trade partner and the number one to Miami. The Port of Miami process millions in cargo to and from Brazil. Also, for several consecutive years, Brazilian tourists make up the largest foreign group visiting Miami. Several Brazilian companies opened their office in Miami, many Brazilian entrepreneurs chosen Miami. Many Brazilian businessmen chose Miami not only to invest in real estate, but also to expand and internationalize their businesses.
Brazil & U.S Biz: What are the top challenges for Miami-Dade?
Mayor Gimenez: I think transportation is one of our biggest challenges. The future of transportation in Miami-Dade County will require us to leverage new technologies while maximizing our investments in traditional infrastructure projects. We must do more to improve transit and mobility in our community
Brazil & U.S Biz: The developer, Moishe Mana, has spent more than $270 million on real estate in the Flagler street area. The plan is for a ‘curb-less,’ pedestrian-friendly, street. Do you think the revitalization of Flagler street will be as successful as the re-urbanization of Wynwood?
Mayor Gimenez: The revitalization of Downtown Miami is a broad project, involving many people and different projects such as the Miami World Center, the Skyrise and also Flagler street . The idea is to create an urban community where people can live, work and have quality entertainment without having to commute to other neighborhoods.
Brazil & U.S Biz: We both having be attending and supporting the eMerge Americas from the first edition. Five years late the conference grew from 4 thousand attendees to 15 thousand this year. What do you think about it?
Mayor Gimenez : We’ve supported eMerge from the very beginning and we’re one of its prime sponsors. It helped to place Miami-Dade County on the technology map. Miami is becoming an important tech hub in the east coast, that created more jobs opportunities and investments for the county.