6 New Areas of Study You Didn’t Know Were in Miami

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read JULY 2019 — Technology has reshaped not only how education is delivered but what courses are being taught, with universities and colleges revamping their curriculums to better prepare students with the skills employers demand. 

In Miami, local public and private higher education institutions have upgraded their academic offerings and have focused on working with local businesses to provide opportunities for more than a quarter-million students. 

Invest: Miami spoke with local leaders in the sector to get an update on their new offerings.

Florida International University (FIU)

FIU recently added a bachelor’s of science in the Internet of Things to provide knowledge and expertise in modern digital communication devices. It is also beginning to develop lifelong learner programs, including weekend, just-in-time and certificate programs related to technological and data-literacy development.

“Skill sets are increasingly becoming multidisciplinary in almost all areas. It’s a whole new world out there, and we want to make sure that our students are at the cutting edge of that,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg, when he recently sat down with the Invest: Miami team.  

University of Miami Graduate school: 

UM Graduate School will add a degree program centered on climate change and health as part of a set of new interdisciplinary programs in the works. 

“We have to continue to push the envelope and be innovative. Educational programs tend to be concentrated, and I believe we need to continue developing interdisciplinary programs. We must give students an opportunity to practice some of their non-discipline-specific skills as well,” Guillermo “Willy” Prado, dean of UM Graduate School, said.

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine:

The school is revamping its curriculum to focus on using “entrustable professional activities” to determine the competency of a medical student, as opposed to the traditional four-year structure. The approach will allow students to complete an earlier transition from medical school to residency. 

“We are in the process of designing a Miller-specific curriculum that we believe will be the model that other institutions will mimic for years to come. There has been a lot of evolution in the field, and we believe we have an opportunity to innovate and help lead in that domain,” said Dr. Henri Ford, dean and chief academic officer of Miller School of Medicine, in an interview with Invest:. 

Miami Business School (MBS): 

MBS is starting a 10-month M.S. in sustainable business next August. “That will be the first STEM-certified M.S. in sustainable business degree in the country,” Dean of MBS John Quelch told Invest:.

University of Miami School of Law:

The law school established joint degrees with University of Miami schools covering at least 10 specialties. “We’re the most interdisciplinary unit within the university. Many of our curricular offerings and our rich, intensive clinical education program in various substantive areas such as human rights, immigration and environmental justice are deeply interdisciplinary,” Patricia White, dean of the University of Miami School of Law, told Invest:.

UM Division of Continuing & International Education:

UM Division of Continuing & International Education launched certificates in coding and cybersecurity as part of its academic focus on STEM. The division’s dean, Rebecca MacMillan Fox, told Invest: that both certificates “have exceeded our expectations for enrollment and industry demand.” 

The division is also launching a GPRO Certificate Program (Green Professional Building Skills Training) that is customized for the climate and regional needs of South Florida.


To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Florida International University (FIU): https://www.fiu.edu/ 

University of Miami Graduate School: https://www.grad.miami.edu/ 

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine: http://med.miami.edu/ 

Miami Business School (MBS): https://www.bus.miami.edu/ 

University of Miami School of Law: https://www.law.miami.edu/ 

UM Division of Continuing & International Education: https://www.dcie.miami.edu/

No Slowdown in Sight for Miami Construction

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read JULY 2019— Employment in the U.S. construction sector continued to trend upward last month, with the addition of 21,000 new jobs, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The strength in the sector, reflected also in the latest Miami regional data, suggest the industry is not slowing as quickly as projected.

According to the most-recent BLS data for Miami, the construction industry added 5,100 jobs in May, a 3.7% year-on-year increase and above the 2.8% national figure for that month. The numbers aren’t surprising, given the amount of development in the Miami area.

“What has been impressive to me over the last year is the number of projects we have under construction,” Andrew Burnett, senior principal at Stantec Architecture, told Invest:. “We have around 26 to 30 projects that are either in construction or looking to start construction next year. A large percentage of them are mixed-use residential, and we’re not only providing architecture and interior design services but often engineering and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) as well.”

As stated in Invest: Miami 2019, residential development remains the top driver of construction in Miami. Although there has been a slight slowdown in the condo market, some experts expect the strong performance to continue.

“I see the right projects and developments continuing to thrive,” Manny Varas, president and CEO of MV Group, told Invest:. “Buyers are taking their time to make better decisions. They’re seeking out developers with strong track records as well as the quality of interiors and finishes that they’re looking for and can count on,” he said.  

In 2018, Miami ranked among the Top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas for commercial and multifamily construction starts, according to Dodge & Data Analytics. The construction in Miami’s residential real estate is characterized by the trend of continued foreign investment in high-profile luxury condos.

Another area with strong demand is infrastructure construction, according to Luis Lugo, Hill International’s senior vice president and regional manager for the Southeast U.S. and Latin America. For example, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International Airport, will soon start major expansion and modernization projects and the Miami-Dade Transit SMART program is expected to start construction activity soon. 

“We also do a lot of work with the hospitality industry. We’re building about a dozen hotels throughout the region. That’s a big market for us, and it’s a space in which we excel,” Lugo said. 

Despite speculation about a national economic slowdown, the outlook for Miami’s construction sector is positive. “The market will continue to be strong. A little slowdown is expected, but construction is going to pick up in 2019 and beyond,” Lugo said. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Stantec Architecture: https://www.stantec.com/en/services/architecture-interior-design 

MV Group: https://www.mvgroupusa.com/ 

Hill International: https://www.hillintl.com/en 

Miami Banks Leading Tech Charge

By Yolanda Rivas

July 2019

2 min read  — Advances in technology are having a dramatic influence in the banking sector across the globe. Innovations are impacting the delivery of products and services, making the banking process faster, easier and more reliable. Customer satisfaction and increased competition are driving the tech push, and there is more on the horizon.

“We are changing our core banking system and investing more than $25 million to make that change. It’s an important step for us because we know technology will be the driving force to our growth in the future,” Fernando Beyruti, CEO of Itau Private Bank, told Invest:. 

An article from Bank Innovation explains that banks are spending more than $100 million to replace their aging core systems. Advances in blockchain technology, IoT, fintech, online banking and robotics have helped many financial institutions improve efficiency and accessibility. 

The investment isn’t just to make banking easier now, it is also part of the future. Technology is an integral part of City National Bank’s five-year plan. “We will invest over $15 million in digital transformation for the organization. This will ensure that we continue to be innovative as well as impactful through improving our client experience,” President and CEO Jorge Gonzalez told Invest:.  

Many financial institutions are also partnering with financial technology (fintech) groups to improve their offerings. According to a 2017 report from multinational professional services network PwC, 82% of financial leaders expect to increase fintech partnerships in the next three to five years. 

Cybersecurity and fraud detection are other areas where technology is playing a key role. “When we invest in technology we are also investing in strengthening our cybersecurity,” Gonzalez stated. The investment is not just in the technology, but also in bringing in the right people who have the experience and talent to be able to instill their knowledge throughout the organization,” he said. 

In that regard, First American Bank recently created a senior-level position — information security officer — whose role is to train employees and allocate resources in preparation for possible cyberattacks. “Security threats are on the rise, forcing us to be mindful that our information can be compromised at any time. Through back-room investments and increased training, we are taking the necessary precautions to reduce risk by educating our employees as well as our customers,” Brian Hagan, Florida Market President for First American Bank, told Invest:. 

Although technology adoption can be a challenge for some financial institutions, especially smaller banks that do not have the financial capacity to keep up with the latest innovations, ultimately it can provide a cost-savings. “I think all of us as a banking community in Miami are saddled with compliance concerns. But I think that, with technology, those kinds of costs can be reduced gradually while still maintaining the kind of vigilance that we have to have. There’s a good opportunity for our industry here,” G. Frederick Reinhardt, Chairman and CEO of Brickell Bank, stated in an Interview with Invest:. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Itau Private Bank: http://www.itauprivatebank.com/

City National Bank: https://www.citynationalcm.com/home/home 

First American Bank: https://www.firstambank.com/personalbanking/ 

Brickell Bank: https://brickellbankmiami.com/ 

PwC: https://www.pwc.com/ 

Bank Innovation: https://bankinnovation.net/ 

Southern Command’s Economic Impact in the Region

By Yolanda Rivas

July 2019

2 min read — The U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) moved its headquarters to Miami almost 22 years ago with revised priorities, objectives and capabilities. Since then, the command has had a significant impact on the local economy.


According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, by 2017, SOUTHCOM had a combined economic impact in Miami-Dade of 53,151 jobs. It also had $5.4 billion in sales, a gross regional product of $5.1 billion and a 4% of total gross product since 2011. 

SOUTHCOM is one of 10 unified Combatant Commands in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). And it is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation in its area of responsibility, which covers much of the Western Hemisphere. It includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean (except U.S. commonwealths, territories, and possessions) and encompasses 31 countries and 16 dependencies and areas of special sovereignty. 

Although the command was given its current name in 1963, its history as a unified military headquarters began during World War II, with the establishment of the U.S. Caribbean Defense Command, located in Panama. It was in September 1997 when the SOUTHCOM moved to Miami. 

The command is now responsible for employing over 1,200 military and civilian personnel representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and several other federal agencies. The defense industry has an economic impact of $5.5 billion on Miami-Dade County and it supports 56,476 jobs with an average salary of $70,300, according to data from Miami Dade Beacon Council. 

The SOUTHCOM has played a key role on the overall defense industry impact in the county. Raymond Sarracino, spokesperson from U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs, explained in an interview with Miami Today that “in addition to salary, he or she (military active duty) will also receive $3,000 a month tax free for living expenses, which definitely plays a role in the economic impact of the community.”

The command’s workforce is supported by more than 400 civilian employees who play a crucial role in SOUTHCOM’s efforts to support security and stability in the region. They also have a Public / Private Cooperation (PPC) program which integrates non-governmental organizations, private companies, academic institutions, or other qualifying groups to foster society solutions for 21st century challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

For more information, please visit:

U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM): https://www.southcom.mil/ 

U.S. Department of Defense: https://www.defense.gov/ 

Miami Dade Beacon Council: https://www.beaconcouncil.com/ 

SOUTHCOM Public / Private Cooperation (PPC) program: https://www.southcom.mil/Work-With-Us/Public-Private-Cooperation/

Miami Growing Political Profile

Miami Growing Political Profile

By Yolanda Rivas

June 2019

2 min read July 2019 — Miami grabbed the national spotlight last week when it hosted the first Democratic presidential debates. The city is already a popular destination for tourism and business, but events like these boost its political profile and create a trickle-down effect that has a broad and positive impact.

“Miami is a vibrant and dynamic city that reflects the values and diversity of the Democratic Party. I couldn’t imagine a better setting for our first debate,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez in a written statement regarding the event at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. 

Miami has previously hosted presidential debates, which impact logistics, airport and hotel capacity. In March 2016, Republican candidates debated at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center during the 12th and final Republican presidential debate. The city also hosted a Democratic presidential primary debate at Miami Dade College and the first of the presidential debates in 2004 at the University of Miami.  

These political events also benefit the educational institutions that host them. Usually, universities spend millions of dollars to host presidential debates. This has a direct impact on the local economy, with the involvement of subcontractors and others in the preparations for security and media. 

According to an article in USA Today, Lynn University, which hosted a 2012 general election presidential debate in Boca Raton, estimated the event generated a staggering $63.7 million in “earned media.” For example, the university estimated that some 4,000 media representatives attended the debate and spent $2.6 million while in town.

These events can also represent an enriched educational experience for students because a number of seats are usually distributed to university students and officials. As a debate site, an institution also enjoys heightened visibility and a chance to attract new students. 

While less obvious, another significant benefit is the ability of a city to capture the nation’s attention and potentially influence the election through the questions and topics discussed. Miami is a demographically diverse and coastal city, making it perfectly suited to raise issues of national concern, such as immigration and climate change, as happened at the Democratic debates. 

Miami’s rich culture, demographics and strong business environment make it a prime destination for political events. With the spotlight in hand, Miami not only bolstered its national stature, it provided an opportunity for the local community to shine, and potentially grow. 

For more information, visit:

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts: https://www.arshtcenter.org/ 

University of Miami: https://welcome.miami.edu/ 

BankUnited Center – Watsco Center: http://watscocenter.com/eventpage.php?id=154 

Miami Dade College: http://www.mdc.edu/

Miami is a prime destination for new food & beverage concepts

By staff writer

June 2019


Miami’s food and beverage sector is known for its diversity, and 2019 is expected to buttress that reputation, with numerous high-profile restaurants set to spice up the local scene. The arrival of international eateries that are making Miami their first U.S. location is also helping to prop up the economy.

“The tremendous growth we’ve observed (in the real estate market) can be attributed in part to the fact that Miami has become much more important culturally than it ever has been. Even in terms of restaurants, this market never had the selection it now has,” Jackie Soffer, CEO and chairman of real estate development group Turnberry Associates told Invest:. “For instance, we just opened a restaurant in the Aventura Mall with Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina, both well-known, nationally acclaimed chefs, called International Smoke,” she said. 

Restaurants are a driving force not only in Miami, but in Florida’s economy. According to a report from the National Restaurant Association, restaurant and food service jobs represent 12% of employment in the state. 

One of the most anticipated openings for fall 2019 is Orilla Bar & Grill, by Argentine chef Fernando Trocca. This will be the popular Argentine restaurant’s first location in the U.S. Trocca partnered with bartender Ines De Los Santo and restaurateur Martin Pittaluga, according to an article in Eater Miami. 

Esplanade at Aventura, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment complex under construction, recently announced five restaurants that will debut their first U.S locations there. These eateries, which are set to open in spring 2020, are: Carolo and Blanco Bistro, both from Mexico; Jarana, the newest restaurant concept from Peruvian celebrity chef Gastón Acurio; SU Japanese, based on Brazilian-based restaurant Kitchin; and Mixtura Market Hall, which is the first food hall announced for the complex. Miami’s rich dining landscape offers options for every type of flavor, from Latin American to Pan-asian, Caribbean to Middle Eastern,

“There’s high demand in the restaurant industry: The Miami Modern (MiMo) area is continually growing and the whole Biscayne Corridor is changing because of its proximity to key areas such as the beach and downtown,” Michelle Gonzalez, Broker/Owner of Floridian First Realty, told Invest:. “There are other areas such as Kendall and Homestead that have space for growing their culinary offerings and where we’ll definitely see more restaurants opening up.” 

Gonzalez added that trendy restaurant concepts, such as juice bars and cafes, new hotels and breweries, are also reshaping Downtown Miami, including its look and feel. 

For more information about our interviewees, please visit: 

Turnberry Associates: https://www.turnberry.com/

Floridian First Realty: https://www.floridianfirstrealty.com/

National Restaurant Association: https://restaurant.org/Home


“It’s Official, Miami”

January 2018 — “Today you made my dream come true,” a giddy David Beckham, suited shoulders draped in an MLS scarf, told a small crowd gathered at the Adrienne Arsht Center on Monday, January 29.

After his first announcement four years ago fell through in the face of financing and stadium site challenges, Beckham’s dream of bringing an MLS expansion team to Miami is finally coming to fruition as the league made it official.

Beckham’s ownership group is planning to build a 25,000-seat, $225 million stadium in Overtown as the new home to Miami professional soccer. The stadium plan includes a training center and academy that will focus on developing local players. The team hopes to be deeply connected to the community — not just to the players but also to the fans. The goal is to grow locally in order to compete globally.

Miami has a complicated history with soccer. Its first MLS team, Miami Fusion, based out of Fort Lauderdale, flopped in 2001 after only a few short — and underwhelming — years. In a city known for its diversity and rich Latin American influence, it’s almost unfathomable that a futbol team isn’t already a huge part of its fabric. But while friendly matches bring out fans in droves, for some reason a home team hasn’t had the same impact.

Beckham and his co-owners hope to change that. Perhaps as they sort out the still-unannounced details — team name, colors, logo, start date — they should look to another team, in Capital Analytics’ Atlanta market, for some ideas on how to make a brand-new franchise shine virtually overnight.

In 2017, Atlanta United kicked off its inaugural season, and just five months after that first game, it had become MLS’s most popular team. It boasts the highest average home attendance in MLS history and better average home attendance than any MLS, NBA, NHL or MLB franchise in the country. Its opening weekend match was the best-attended game, by a factor of two, in the league.

Reports have suggested we would be the 24th team in Europe with our average attendance,” Darren Eales, president of Atlanta United, told Capital Analytics, “and for our first game of the season, we had an attendance of 55,000, which put us at the fourth most attended game in the world.”

So how did this team go from nothing to record-breaking so quickly? Two words: community investment. They spent a lot of time meeting with fans in bars, pre-selling season seats and generally pounding the pavement to spread the word.

“From day one, we wanted to create the feeling that this was a club centered on its fans,” Eales told Capital Analytics, “so we did a lot of grassroots events focused on international games and viewing parties. We decided that if we focus on our most dedicated fans, the rest will take care of itself.”  

They also spent some time making sure that the team would be worth watching, which included recruiting a talented coach and deeply investing in young players. Team owner Arthur Blank’s resources, such as commercial sponsorship and sales and marketing departments (he also owns the Falcons), didn’t hurt either.

If Beckham wants his Miami team to succeed, he will need to rely on more than his legendary right foot. Soccer is a collaborative sport, and the Miami MLS franchise will truly need to be a collaboration between the community and the team. All eyes on are on Fútbol Miami as the details get hammered out and we looked forward to opening day!

For more information on Beckham’s team, visit https://www.futbolmiamimls.com/
For more information on Atlanta United, visit https://www.atlutd.com/

Rate Increases on the Horizon

January 2018 —  Florida City Gas (FCG) recently filed its first rate case for natural gas service in 14 years. For typical residential customers, this means an average increase of $1.73, or 6.4 percent, per month on their annual natural gas bill.

FCG rates are currently the lowest in the region, and these rate increases are essential to providing safe and reliable natural gas to FCG’s more than 108,000 customers.

“Because of some recent changes at the federal and state levels, as well as the more than $284 million that we have invested since 2004 in improving our ground infrastructure and capturing greater operational efficiencies, this is now the right time for us to look at a rate case,” Carolyn Bermudez, Vice President of Operation for Florida City Gas, told Invest:.

Since the last rate case, FCG has added 400 miles of distribution mains, 55 miles of transmission mains and 5,800 customers. The rate increase will allow for further investment in capital projects to enhance the system, an increase of capacity needs to ensure reliability in the southern part of the system and employee development in the face of an aging workforce.

FCG is committed to containing costs and efficient management, but like everyone else in today’s economy, it’s not immune to rising costs.

“We have reduced our annual operating expenses by more than $9 million [since 2004],” Bermudez told Invest:. “In order to maintain the necessary standards of service and reliability for natural gas to meet consumers’ needs, the economic forces are going to push the rates slightly up.”

The rate increases are expected to take effect in late summer of 2018.

For more information, visit the FCG website: https://www.floridacitygas.com/

The Wait Is Over

 Brightline officially begins its introductory service


January 2018 — After much anticipation and a few delays, Brightline finally began its introductory service this past Saturday between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

While Saturday’s rides were described as smooth, fast and comfortable by many excited passengers, the celebrations were dimmed by an unfortunate tragedy. During preview runs the night before, a 32-year-old woman was struck and killed by a northbound train when she ducked under the already lowered gates and tried to cross the tracks. Despite this dark cloud, riders are optimistic about the new service.

As the only privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail system in the U.S., the Brightline train offers an unparalleled travel experience in South Florida. All passengers have access to free wifi, outlets and USB jacks while onboard.

A one-way ticket between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is $10 for its select service and $15 for its smart service. Seniors, active military and veterans receive a 10-percent discount, while children under 12 get a 50-percent discount. Trains will depart from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day, and the high-speed train makes the trip in about 40 minutes.

The Brightline service to Miami is expected to open in the coming months, and an opening date for the Orlando station has not yet been set.

For more information or to book a ride, visit https://gobrightline.com/.