Known as the major international trading hub of the Americas, Greater Miami’s business community, people, neighborhoods, schools and architecture all exhibit a cosmopolitan character. The proximity of the Caribbean, Central and South America plus superior seaport and airport capabilities provide this area with a distinct advantage as a global trading center. Long acclaimed for its physical beauty and advantageous climate, Greater Miami also continues as a prime tourist destination.
Greater Miami includes all of Dade County, an area of more than 2,000 square miles. Residents and visitors enjoy plentiful green space and 84 miles of coastline. Skirting the southeastern shoreline is Biscayne National Park, an 181,500-acre marine area that includes Biscayne Bay and 44 keys (islands). Everglades National Park occupies 695,310 acres of marshes, mangroves and hammocks in the southwestern quadrant and is one of the largest and most fascinating wilderness preserves in the nation. Currently 2.06 million residents live in Greater Miami. Of that number, more than one million reside in unincorporated Dade County with the balance residing in the county’s 29 municipalities. The City of Miami is the largest with a population of nearly 400,000, followed by Hialeah, Miami Beach, North Miami and Coral Gables.
Hispanics represent 50 percent of Greater Miami’s total population and blacks account for 20 percent. The single largest age group, ages 25 to 44, makes up 31 percent of the population.
Throughout the past decade, Greater Miami’s work force has grown younger and more culturally diverse. This work force is particularly well suited to employment in today’s internationally oriented industries.
Good business opportunities keep people coming to Greater Miami. The community holds firm to its commitment to providing a strong foundation for steady economic growth, job creation and development, and strengthening international trade opportunities. The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce spearheaded many of the dynamic programs underway today, including One Community One Goal: Creating Jobs for the 21st Century, and will remain at the forefront in generating ideas and excitement for building a better and brighter future.
Economic development flourishes in Miami-Dade County, with the services, trade, manufacturing, real estate and construction sectors showing the strongest potential. Most have taken on a decidedly global focus, with international commerce challenging to become the region’s top industry.
Exports and imports through the Miami Customs District, mainly with Latin America, reached over $47 billion in 1997. Top export trading partners included Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Argentina. Total cargo tonnage for 1997, as reported by the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department, totaled 1.9 million, while over 34.5 million passengers were registered through Miami International Airport. The
Miami-Dade County Seaport reported 7 million in cargo tonnage and over 3.2 million passengers passing through the Port of Miami in 1997. Continued trends by national and multinational corporations to seek operations in Greater Miami to serve Latin America and the Caribbean indicate an advantageous business environment.
One of the most valuable assets for international trade, the Miami Free Zone, is a Greater Miami pioneer. Under a license granted in 1977, the Greater Miami Chamber contracted with the Miami Free Zone Corporation to open the first privately-owned and operated foreign-trade zone in the world. Since 1979, the Miami Free Zone has processed more than $15.8 billion of goods. Located on 47 acres, the Zone’s 846,000 square foot, modern, high-security warehouse and office complex is conveniently situated just west of Miami International Airport. Hewlett-Packard Company’s Miami facilities were approved for special purpose sub zone status by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1997. The two facilities are expected to employ approximately 240 people with a total annual payroll of $5.5 million. This is the first sub zone facility for Miami, Foreign Trade Zone #32, and South Florida. The Miami Free Zone is the recipient of the prestigious “E” Award for Excellence from the U.S. Department of Commerce, a testimony to the value and service the Zone provides to its nearly 200 major international trade clients. It is one of the driving forces in Greater Miami’s emergence as a global trade center.
In 1997, the Greater Miami Chamber joined Enterprise Florida, a public/private entity established to guide Florida’s economic development, to organize an export program for service businesses. Now underway, the Business Service Export Program is designed to promote Florida’s business services worldwide.
Reports indicate that the service trade industry is experiencing a substantial growth rate per year and creating thousands of high-paying jobs on the national level. This program works to promote the export of statewide business services through a series of missions. Given the great demand for services in international markets, this program is projected to give a strong boost to South Florida’s economic growth. The first Florida International Business Services Export Mission was successfully completed to Santiago, Chile, in June 1997, and resulted in a total of $2 million in immediate actual sales. An additional $75 million in sales are expected through follow-up negotiations.
The Chamber is creating a database that includes Florida’s business service providers who qualify to participate in the program, as well as resources, key contacts, prospects and business opportunities in target markets. The services that are currently targeted for exporting include financial, technology consulting, utilities, construction, advertising, public relations and other professional services.
Foreign trade offices, consulates and bi-national chambers of commerce representing 60 countries support greater Miami’s international business sector. They provide statistical data, networking opportunities and vital trade information to local companies wishing to conduct business abroad as well as foreign companies seeking business opportunities in our community.
Residential and commercial construction has remained strong in South Florida since Hurricane Andrew created havoc and caused widespread destruction in 1992. Demand for single-family homes, high-rise condominiums and, in particular, apartments continues to grow. Single-family home sales registered $1.9 billion for 1997, with 10,761 units sold. Condominium sales for the same period reached $558 million, with 4,690 units sold. Greater Miami is perceived as one of the most stable real estate markets in the United States resulting in strong investment opportunities and new development.
Reports also indicate that foreign investors are purchasing residential property at a higher rate than local or national buyers. Key factors influencing the market are Greater Miami’s draw as an international tourist and business center. The CMC Group’s magnificent Santa Maria high-rise on Brickell Avenue and New Florida Properties’ sparkling Diamond Collection of luxury condominiums on Collins Avenue are proud testaments to architectural and engineering achievement.
Manufacturing continues as one of the area’s most significant industries, with apparel, printing, metal fabrication and medical products topping the list of items produced. Although the apparel industry still dominates, bio-medical firms, including equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Cordis/Johnson & Johnson, Beckman-Coulter, Inc., Ivax Corporation and Kos Pharmaceuticals, are challenging to become the leaders in manufacturing.
The telecommunications industry is booming in Greater Miami. Not only is the community a major user area, it also functions as the telecommunications service center of the Americas for large and small companies. Many companies, including local operations of BellSouth, AT&T and LDDS/WORLDCOM, offer the technology infrastructure, expertise and strong educational resources necessary for excellent communications to support domestic and international operations. Business conditions in
Latin America and the Caribbean are favorable and ready for expansion due to the onset of privatization and regulatory changes in many of these countries.
Another sector that has shown a significant increase is the computer export industry, particularly to Latin America. With over 150 computer export companies registered in Miami-Dade County, the Miami Customs District reported $2.17 billion in computer exports in 1997. Top markets for industry exports include Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Major media organizations located in Greater Miami include: The Miami
Herald and El Nuevo Herald, publications affiliated with Knight Ridder, one of the nation’s largest newspaper and information companies; Telemundo and Univision, the top two Spanish-language television networks in the U.S.; Miami-USA Broadcasting Network; and the Latin American production offices for CBS/TeleNoticias, The Discovery Channel, MTV Networks and The Travel Channel.
Strong demand, aggressive marketing and convenient access to Latin America, all work to strengthen Greater Miami’s role as a major international banking and investment center. Domestic and international businesses find convenient access to a full array of services provided by locally based state and national commercial banks, savings and loan associations, foreign banks, credit institutions, securities and commodities brokers and insurance companies.
Many industry experts predict the continued strengthening of South Florida’s international financial sector due to its ties to the economic development and privatization of many industries in Latin America. Access to Latin American markets has made Greater Miami increasingly competitive with New York in the realm of international banking. Many of the new foreign banks opening offices in Greater Miami are coming from Latin America, while the existing Latin American, European and Asian bank offices strive to enhance and expand their local presence, particularly in private and commercial banking. Many major U.S. banks have also relocated their international trade divisions to South Florida.
Reports indicate that, in 1997, Florida’s foreign bank assets reached $18.5 billion, loans amounted to $12.3 billion, and deposits rose to $10.7 billion. Assets in the Edge Act Corporations more than doubled from $5.6 billion in 1996 to $11.45 billion in 1997. Deposits rose from $4.06 billion in 1996 to $4.85 billion in 1997.
These foreign banks also provide high quality, well-paid jobs to Greater Miami residents, with a December 1997, report listing 1,698 individuals employed with total salaries exceeding $119 million.
Most domestic and international bank offices operating in Greater Miami are headquartered in downtown Miami’s financial district along Brickell Avenue. Greater Miami’s financial institutions have developed their products and improved their personnel training to better serve today’s multilingual and multicultural clientele. They meet the business and personal needs of local customers within Greater Miami’s diverse industries and neighborhoods, while attracting foreign investors to use our community’s exceptional business services.