Invest: Miami speaks with Larry K. Williams, Former President and CEO

The economy in Miami-Dade is deeper and broader than people know. It includes a rich history in industries such as aviation, banking and trade and logistics. Today, we continue to see growth in these traditional sectors, but other knowledge-based areas, such as technology, life sciences and health care are also growing rapidly.

Miami is a natural for growing an innovation ecosystem. Many people may not realize this, but Miami is a “college town,” with over 250,000 students and two research universities. With leading organizations like eMerge Americas, Endeavor and the Knight Foundation investing in entrepreneurship activity, there’s a growing movement and an energy that is exciting and inspiring.

We also see great potential with the designation of Miami International Airport (MIA) as one of only two approved pharmaceutical hubs in the world. To ensure talent development in these critical industries, we have the Academic Leaders Council, an unprecedented collaboration between the presidents of major higher education institutions and the superintendent of schools. They are working directly with business leaders to ensure academic curriculum meets the needs of our businesses. One result of this is the Talent Development Network, a platform to connect employers with students looking for internships.

Global changes impact Miami’s economy as much or more than any other U.S. community. Miami-Dade continues to be a gateway for investment to the U.S. and the region. Our world-class infrastructure is getting even better, with MIA breaking records in passenger and cargo transported, and PortMiami ready to welcome mega-size cargo ships from the expanded Panama Canal. Over 50 percent of all companies coming to Miami are international. For these reasons, marketing Miami-Dade as a world-class business destination is The Beacon Council’s top priority. We continue to focus on countries in Europe and in Latin America, but we are also gaining much more interest from countries in the Middle East and Asia.