Miami Beach: More than Sand and Sea!

June 2018—Miami Beach is home to over seven miles of beaches and world-famous nightlife, making it one of America’s favorite playgrounds, but the city is more than just fun and games. Each fall Miami Beach hosts one of the world’s most prestigious art events: Art Basel. Due to an agreement made in 2017, the event will remain on the beach for the next five years, cementing Miami Beach’s already strong reputation as an arts and culture destination.

As Mayor Gelber told Invest:, “A lot of Miami Beach’s cultural offerings have appeared in the last 10 to 15 years because of the vision and investment from people who wanted it here. We are the center of the art world during Art Basel, and we become the ‘foodie’ capital of the world during the South Beach Wine and Food festival. We also have this organic creation of cultural centers, including the Bass Museum, the ballet and the New World Symphony.”



The Miami Beach Convention Center was closed in 2017 during ongoing renovations, which was one of the biggest challenges to the region’s tourism industry last year according to William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The convention center reopened for business in mid-March 2018, although the final touches are still being completed. The project will be completely finished in time for the city’s newest event: Grand Basel, a celebration of old and new luxury cars. The event will take place in February 2019 and will highlight Miami’s cultural fixation on antique and luxury automobiles.

Another unique aspect of Miami Beach is its real estate, as Phil Gutman, president of Brown Harris Stevens, told Invest. “Often the Miami Beach market is lumped in with all of Greater Miami, but it should be analyzed as its own sector,” he said. “When prospective buyers from all over the world are thinking about buying a vacation home, one of the top places on their radar is Miami Beach, not inland neighborhoods. Part of the reason for that is the Miami Beach government. The mayor is making sure that Miami Beach maintains its integrity. The government is proactively getting in front of challenges and correcting them, which gives investors confidence. Anytime individuals are making sizable investments in property, they will want to make sure that their money is going to a place that is stable and secure. The government of Miami Beach takes pride in doing what’s best for the community. It has evolved quite a bit, but the city is doing a great job of balancing that against overdevelopment.”

With a proactive local government, new and familiar world-class events and a soon-to-be-completed renovation of the city’s convention center, Miami Beach’s future looks sunny indeed!

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:
Mayor Gelber, City of Miami Beach:
William Talbert, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Phil Gutman, Brown Harris Stevens:



The Mothers of Miami

Julia Tuttle.

May 2018 — May is the month to celebrate mothers. In honor of all mothers out there, Invest: Miami wanted to take the time to give a shoutout to Julia Tuttle and Mary Brickell for founding the Magic City. While Tuttle is famed for bearing the nickname the “Mother of Miami,” both she and Brickell were extremely influential players in the founding of Miami and contributed much to what the city is known for today.

In 1871, Mary and William Brickell, unable to stand the cold winters of the North, moved their family to what is known today as Brickell Point in the City of Miami. Hoping for a new railroad, Mary Brickell acquired a total of 6,427 acres of land between what are now West Palm Beach and Coconut Grove.

In 1891, Julia Tuttle and her family moved to Miami, as well. Julia and Mary both persisted in convincing Henry Flagler to bring his railroad south and build a city on the river. When a harsh freeze ruined the rest of the country’s crops, Tuttle sent fresh fruit to Flager and convinced him to extend his railroad with the promise of a prosperous and hardy crop yield.

Mary Brickell gave Flagler the rights to her land stretching from Palm Beach to Miami on the condition that he establish a city north of Miami. With that, Fort Lauderdale was born out of a one-square-mile site. Tuttle gave Flagler the land north of the Miami River, and Brickell gave him the land south of the Miami River. Once the railroad was officially built, residents, tourists and opportunists alike began flocking to Miami to take advantage of the potential offered by this brand-new city.

Miami would not be what it is today if it weren’t for the persistence and vision of these pioneering women. We extend deep thanks to the Mothers of Miami!


Mary Brickell.

Riding with Ease

May 2018 — There is no question that ride sharing has made it easier for people to travel from place to place on an international scale. Even in Miami, where there is a strong car-ownership culture, people have been cutting back on driving and turning to ride sharing to get around town.

The most obvious reason for this trend is that ride sharing apps are so easy to use. The user-friendly interface lets you order a ride, contact your driver and even see what type of car you’ll be riding in before it arrives. There’s also the comfort of knowing how much your ride will cost before you get in the car, and digital receipts are much easier to keep track of than paper receipts. On the whole, ride sharing makes traveling easy and stress free, especially when you’re not the one stuck behind the wheel during a rush-hour traffic jam.


Today Uber, the world’s biggest ride-sharing company, has 100,000 partners throughout the state of Florida. We asked Kasra Moshkani, general manager of the Southeast U.S. region, how Uber is working with the Miami business community to make the ride-sharing experience unique.

One answer to that is the partnerships we’ve formed over the last few years, including our relationships with the Miami Heat, the Miami Marlins, the Adrienne Arsht Center and Ultra Music Festival,” Moshkani said. “These organizations, sports franchises, venues and events in our community are such an integral part of what it means to live in Miami, and we want to be a part of that experience.”

Partnerships are not the only way Uber stays connected. For the second year in a row, Uber is teaming up with Ironhack, a coding and design bootcamp located in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, to award scholarships to Uber driver-partners and riders. In 2018, $200,000 in scholarships will be given out to promote professional development in the area of coding and design.

To learn more about Uber’s positive effects on Miami and the benefits that ride sharing is providing to the city’s transportation sector, pre-order your copy of Invest: Miami 2018 today!

For more information about Uber, visit

Cultivating Arts and Culture in Miami

Frost Science Museum. Photo by Robin Hill (c).

April 2018 — One of the most notable aspects of Miami is its rich culture. Each year, the city welcomes both national and international guests for events such as Art Basel and Miami Music Week to experience firsthand the vibrant arts and lively cultural offerings. Although exciting and unique, these events have attracted visitors only during a certain season rather than year-round. With the recent increase of investments and developments in the area, however, Miami’s once-seasonal arts and culture festivities are developing into a year-round attraction.

This past year marked the completion of a new museum, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, which opened in May 2017. Since its debut, the museum has already exceeded expectations for projected visitors for its first year. Similarly, the neighboring Pérez Art Museum has seen a steady increase in attendance in past years, growing over 800 percent since December 2013. Both museums offer certain limited-time exhibits, incentivizing visitors to come see them while they have the opportunity, while also aiming to maintain interest and relevance for residents who attend regularly. The city’s flourishing interest in arts and culture has had a positive impact on the Miami community, creating a common thread that connects its diverse population.

Invest: Miami spoke with a number of leaders in the Magic City’s arts and culture industry to gain insight into how Miami has developed its cultural offerings and what impact that has had on the economy. Here’s what they said:

Franklin Sirmans, Director, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

“One of the most important trends has been the evolution of Miami as a year-round destination for arts and culture. There was a time when one talked about an ‘arts season,’ but over the years an explosion in the Miami arts scene has led to Miami-Dade being a must-visit location to see important work by a variety of artists throughout the year. One example of this is PAMM’s first major exhibition focused on Jean-Michael Basquiat’s notebooks that ran from August until mid-October. The beautifully organized retrospective of this very important artist and accompanying interactive gallery was well received by visitors and journalists alike during a time that was once considered ‘out of season.’  Miami has indeed become a global arts capital.”

Frank Steslow, President, Frost Museum of Science

“There is a long-term vision to broaden our scope and partner with the other cultural entities in Miami to create larger, inter-organizational events. The relocation of the Frost Museum to Downtown has added to what is becoming a museum campus, together with the Pérez Art Museum of Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center, American Airlines Arena and even the Children’s Museum on Jungle Island. All of these institutions come together geographically and create valuable critical mass that positions us as not only a focal point of Miami but also as a cultural hub within the city, as well as the region.”

Howard Herring, President, New World Symphony

“Miami might be ahead of other 21st-century cities in reimagining the impact of philanthropic investment in cultural programs. Traditional philanthropy calls for generous support for the gap between earned revenue and the cost of artistic endeavors. Just now in Miami, donors are becoming investors in art forms and institutions, realizing the work of artists and institutions has direct impact on the economic sustainability and social viability of the community.”

Kobi Karp, President, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design

“One of the major artistic and design trends taking place in cities around the world is that municipalities are building up their artistic and cultural community centers in the urban core.”

Pérez Art Museum (PAMM):
Frost Museum of Science:
New World Symphony:
Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design:

Miami Is a Hub for International Banking



May 2018 — Miami is a city filled with rich culture and a diverse business community. In 2016, the GaWC Research Network designated it an “Alpha World City,” meaning that it is recognized as a “very important world city that links major economic regions and states into the world economy.”

Miami has always had a strong international influence in sectors such as trade, tourism and the arts. In the area of trade, specifically, Latin America composes nearly 25 percent of total U.S. trade, and Miami has long been considered the capital of Latin America. It is an interdependent business relationship: Miami relies on Latin America for certain goods and services, while Latin America relies on Miami for other specific goods and services.

Recently, another industry in Miami has started to see an increasing international presence: banking. A stagnant economy in Latin America coupled with less stringent banking regulations in the United States has proven advantageous for the Magic City’s banking sector. Miami’s already strong connections with Latin America have been further bolstered by unstable conditions in the region. Many wealthy individuals in Latin America benefit from investing their money in the more stable Miami market, which has led to increasing clientele for South Florida’s financial institutions.

Invest: Miami spoke with a number of leaders in the city’s banking industry to gain insights on how Miami banks plan to continue to attract and service international clients. Here’s what they said:

Guillermo Castillo, Managing Director & South Florida Region Manager, JPMorgan Chase

“Miami is an important international gateway, and our international banking teams have a base here. Providing solutions to international clients is a strategic advantage for us; the smallest companies nowadays have some sort of international operation, even to the extent of operating offices in other countries. Those are important client opportunities that we are uniquely qualified to service. We see a lot of foreign-owned entities with foreign parent companies. There is a good deal of this business here because of the connections with doing business in Latin America.”

Carlos Constantini, CEO, Itaú USA International Private Bank

“Because more investors are diversifying, there will be more players coming into the Miami market and more competition. At the same time, the entire industry is going to grow. We will see company growth and more activity for two reasons: 1) South Florida has a strong connection with Latin America and a lot of South Americans have family or second homes here, and 2) from a logistical standpoint, this is the best place you can be. It’s easier to cover Latin America out of Miami than from Latin America. A flight from São Paulo to Peru can be a nightmare, but from Miami it’s a very simple trip.”

Maurici Lladó, Managing Director, Banco Sabadell Miami Branch

“For our international clients who are looking at the U.S. as an investment destination, the tax overhaul improves their situation. The impact will not be seen until next year as investment decisions are not made quickly. Investors need time to find a project and secure capital, but abroad, experts are are analyzing and seeing more activity in the U.S.”

J.C. de Ona, Market President, Centennial Bank

“There’s a lot of money in Miami. There’s old money. There’s new money. There’s international money. There’s more money than people sometimes realize. It creates constant opportunities for business and wealth management.”

To find out more about our interviewees above, visit their websites at:

JP Morgan Chase:
Itaú USA International Private Bank:
Banco Sabadell Miami Branch:
Centennial Bank:

Lasting Legacy



April 2018 — From the Dolphins’ “perfect season” and back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the 1970s to the Heat’s back-to-back NBA championships in the 2010s, Miami has consistently been known for its talented sports teams. The city’s teams have been home to many of the best players in every major sport, including Dan Marino, Giancarlo Stanton and the powerhouse “Big Three”: Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. To continue Miami’s legacy of sports domination, 2017 brought many highlights to this wonderful city.

The Miami Hurricanes football team landed a near-perfect season, finishing 10-3 after appearing in the Orange Bowl for the first time in over a decade. Many were calling it “the return of the U,” referring to the iconic era of Hurricane domination in the 1980s.

Another huge return happened in Miami recently. This past February, Dwayne Wade, a member of the “Big Three” and a key contributor to Miami’s consecutive championship titles in 2012-13, re-signed with the NBA’s Heat after playing two years on other teams. Miami fans could not be more thrilled about his return and are looking forward to seeing the tremendous talent he brings to the court.

Additionally, Miami is in the midst of welcoming its newest sport: Major League Soccer. David Beckham has been working tirelessly for the past four years to make his dream a reality. In January, he made the announcement that a Miami MLS team has officially been created.  Although the team does not yet have a name, Miami residents and soccer fans are already enthusiastic about what the new team has to offer.

Invest: Miami spoke with a number of leaders in the city’s sports industry to gain insight into  how Miami sports teams create a community bond and the ways these exciting highlights will impact their fan base. Here’s what they said:

Kim Stone, Executive Vice President & General Manager, The Heat Group

“We’re in the middle of a more than 350-game streak of sellouts that dates back to 2010, when the Big Three of Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade first came together. The impressive thing is that we have been able to sustain this after the Big Three departed. We have seen our community and fan base grow from being fans of individual players to fans of the Miami Heat. This year, we are thrilled that Dwyane Wade has returned. From a business standpoint, he is the Miami Heat, so he drives increased interest in terms of tickets, viewership on TV, merchandise sales and enthusiasm for our team. Still, to our fans, it doesn’t matter what name is on the back of the jersey; the name on the front, Miami, is what matters.”

Don Shula, Owner, Miami Dolphins

I think the fact that our initial success came at the same time as the rejuvenation of Miami goes hand-in-hand. We helped shine a spotlight on the region, and that exposure helped show many of the great qualities of the city that makes it such an attractive place to work and live. With the Dolphins playing well again and bringing a sense of excitement throughout South Florida, it will add yet another positive characteristic to such a vibrant region.”

Udonis Haslem, Captain, Miami Heat

We’ve built a tradition over the past 14 years, winning three world championships, which is unheard of in this sport. You can’t think about Miami without thinking about the Heat. You think about the standards, the city, the flash, the glitz, the glitter, the food and the different cultures, and the Miami Heat embraces all of that. You also think about Overtown and the inner city.  Since I have been a part of the Heat organization, we have done a tremendous job of impacting the entire city. Even those who can’t afford tickets are able to come to the games.”

To find out more about Miami’s sports teams, visit their websites at:

Miami Heat:
Miami Dolphins:
Miami Hurricanes:

Innovative Infrastructure



April 2018 — The Miami metro area is booming. As of 2016, the city was ranked the 8th largest for population and the 6th largest for employment growth among big U.S. cities. People are flocking to Miami to take advantage of everything it has to offer: warm weather, rich culture and unique business opportunities. It truly is one of a kind.

However, with an increasing population comes increasing challenges. With limited space to expand, the city continues to look for innovative ways to update its infrastructure in order to accommodate the growing number of residents and employees. Companies are experimenting with new technologies in order to improve safety and efficiency in the most cost-effective way.

Invest: Miami spoke with a number of leaders in the city’s infrastructure industry to gain insight into how Miami plans to successfully increase its capacity limit in the most economical, sustainable and feasible manner. Here’s what they said:

Humberto Alonso, Senior Regional Business Development Director, Atkins North America

“One of the challenges in South Florida is that solutions for transportation that work elsewhere involve building more miles of road or widening streets. We’re past that point here, particularly in Miami-Dade County. There’s no more room to build, so we need to look for other solutions. Technology will be a part of it, but there has to be an infrastructure investment as well. People have to change the way they think about going from one place to another.”

Eric Silagy, President & CEO, Florida Power and Light Company

“In Miami-Dade in particular, it’s critical that we continue to support growth in the region in a comprehensive and forward-thinking manner. The construction boom in Miami over the last few years has been enormous, but it can be challenging from an infrastructure perspective. A lot of planning needs to be done in advance to be able to meet the needs of the new developments. We’ve made great strides in working with regional stakeholders to understand what is coming and the timeframe for these investments so that we can properly plan and execute projects on our end to be ready to support these developments. It’s important to work together to provide opportunities for continued growth while minimizing the impact to those who already live and work in the area. And of course, we must continue to improve and enhance our storm preparation and response planning so that we are able to get the lights back on as quickly as possible after a major storm — particularly in an economic hub like Miami.”

Melsie Ordonez, Director of Operations & Senior Mechanical Engineer, Ross & Baruzzini

“The great thing about working with Miami International Airport is that they are at the forefront of innovation and offer opportunities to explore outside the box. One of the nuances in that environment is the need to tie into the existing infrastructure. We’re doing a small renovation in Concourse G, which is one of the original concourses. There are systems there that need to keep running to keep planes moving even while they are being worked on and added to. Tech is moving fast, and we need to marry the old and the new.”

Eddy Smith, Senior Vice President of Client Services, SCS Engineers

“We use some different approaches that might be more economical. Instead of putting two feet of soil on top of contamination, we’re challenging the old standards and saying, ‘Why can’t we use less than two feet and put in a synthetic barrier?’ We’ve gotten traction and save our clients a whole lot of money by doing that.”

To find out more about our interviewees above, visit their websites at:

Atkins North America:
Florida Power and Light Company:
Ross & Baruzzini:
SCS Engineers:

Demystifying the Tax Overhaul

Invest: Miami partners up with local experts to make sense of the new tax legislation

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”–Albert Einstein


March 2018 — In December 2017, Congress passed the biggest tax reform legislation in more than three decades. The bill will affect most taxpayers, but the biggest question for many is: How? The Tax Cut and Jobs Act represents one of the largest reductions in corporate tax rates in U.S. history, dropping from 35 percent down to 21 percent. The bill also lowers individual tax rates for most Americans, as well as small business owners, but there’s a lot more than that going on in this major tax overhaul.

For that reason, Invest: Miami 2018 is dedicating an entire chapter to tax reform. With the help of our expert partners, we are deciphering the legislation and laying out for our readers what it means for South Florida residents, business owners and investors. Until the book is released, here is a bit of what you can expect from this year’s newest edition.

We recently spoke with J. Michael Custer, who leads the tax practice at CPA and advisory firm Kaufman Rossin. The firm just published a series of blog posts on how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect the specific industries most active in South Florida.

Here’s a sneak peek at what Mike had to say about the tax bill:


Mike Custer of Kaufman Rossin.

How have your clients reacted so far to the new tax legislation?
There was a certain amount of anxiety about the unknown after the new legislation was passed. Whenever the rules change, it takes time for people to figure out what’s going to happen moving forward. There are certain parts of the legislation where we know specifically how they’re going to change our clients’ behavior. On the other hand, there are a whole host of items presented in the bill that have no direction yet. Tax law is never black and white; it is still evolving. That’s why we’re here. We understand the policy and the policy issues, but we make a living by reading the rules, the guidance and even the lack of guidance. That’s where paid professionals really earn their value – interpreting these policies for particular industries and specific clients.

Will this legislation affect population growth in Miami and Florida in general?
Tax policy is a funny thing: it is designed to change human behavior. The fact that there is no individual income tax here in the state of Florida has always been a big draw. Is someone who was going to come into Florida before this tax change going to change her mind? I don’t think so. Are individuals going pick up the pace of moving into Florida? It’s a possibility. It comes back to travel times, housing supply and good schools.

Are businesses seeing the tax decreases they were expecting from the legislation?
Pass-through entities (like S corps and LLCs) got a 20 percent deduction. Many were thinking that since they paid 40 percent already, their rate would drop to 20 percent.  That’s not the case. It’s a 20 percent deduction. So if you make $1 million, you get a 20 percent deduction, bringing your taxable income down to $800,000, and then that’s subject to your top rate of 37 percent. So the effective rate went from 37 percent to around 30 percent, not from 40 percent down to 20 percent. A lot of people were not interpreting it that way initially.


For more from Mike Custer and other experts on how the tax legislation will affect you and your business, look for the tax chapter in this year’s edition of Invest: Miami.

For more information about Kaufman Rossin click here.
To pre-order your copy of Invest: Miami 2018 with the new tax chapter, click here.

The Shared Economy and What It Means for South Florida


February 2018 — Despite Hurricane Irma barreling through the region last fall, a record 88.2 million visitors came to Florida during the first nine months of 2017, a 3.3 percent increase over the same time period in the previous year. More specifically, South Florida welcomed more than 112 million visitors in 2016 and over 60 million visitors by mid-2017. The number of tourists who came to visit in 2016 set another record, surpassing the 106.6 million visitors in 2015 by 5.9 percent.

This pattern of growth is no coincidence. South Florida has been attracting tourists from far and wide with its vibrant cultural offerings as it slowly develops into a globally recognized art capital.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this increasing trend, there is fierce competition in the South Florida hospitality industry. The shared economy — particularly peer-to-peer home exchanges like Airbnb — has been increasingly vying with Miami and Fort Lauderdale hotels to meet visitors’ accommodation needs.

“The presence of Airbnb has been a bigger threat to the hotel market in Miami-Dade than in Greater Fort Lauderdale, but its impact is increasingly making itself felt here,” Bill Cunningham, general manager of Bahia Mar, told Invest:. “Everybody in the hotel industry is still trying to quantify the impact that it is having on hotels, and hoteliers have certainly been surprised by the growth in the number of Airbnb units there are in the county.”

One thing is certain: traditional hotels can no longer ignore the fact that the shared economy is here to stay. Miami-Dade County is one of the top 5 Airbnb destinations in the country, with 6,800 hosts renting their homes to visitors.

The hotel industry realizes that it needs to be flexible about the sharing economy, and that there will be people who prefer traditional accommodation, while others prefer new ways to stay when they travel,” Stacy Ritter, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Invest:. “It’s a matter of marketing, messaging, sales and customer targeting for hotels to reach the right customer.”

One of the biggest challenges the hotel industry faces in competing with companies like Airbnb is regulation, where the playing field has not always been level. South Florida officials are working toward finding a balance that will support both the traditional and consumer-to-consumer markets.

“Since May 2017, Airbnb has been paying a resort tax, convention development tax, tourist development tax and sports tax,” William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Invest: “However, while hotels must follow strict operating ordinances, nearby Airbnb rental properties do not. The tax provides a source of revenue for us, and we are currently working with County Commissioner Heyman to develop regulations for peer-to-peer property rentals. Any regulations that the county commission implements will only affect unincorporated areas of the county, as municipalities retain domain over their own regulations for services like Airbnb.”

In October 2017, Miami-Dade County passed new legislation that provides more stringent rules for hosts, improving the vacation rental standards. Under this new legislation, hosts are required to sign up for a certificate of use, register for a business tax receipt and screen for sexual offenders, among other tighter overall standards.

Airbnb and other companies like it offer an experience that is very different from traditional hotels, and consumers appreciate both. The hope is that the two can find a way to coexist, continuing South Florida’s stellar hospitality tradition.

For more information about our interviewees, visit their websites here:


Bahia Mar: