Bright days ahead for South Florida economy, entrepreneurs

Miami Herald

By Mark Sanna

It is an excellent time to be an entrepreneur, especially in South Florida.

The area’s economy has emerged from the global recession, and numerous factors point to significant and sustained prosperity for businesses here.

The real estate market, which drives so much of our overall economic growth, is hot again. Home demand and prices are way up, and it’s great to see the condo construction cranes rising and swinging busily over downtown Miami’s skyline once more.

Core neighborhoods such Brickell, Biscayne Boulevard, the Design District, Wynwood and others continue their dramatic commercial, cultural and residential resurgence.

Another linchpin of our economy — the hospitality and tourism business — has been solidly rising since 2010 and more recently the growth has hastened further. Record numbers of visitors stayed in our hotels in 2012, and area hospitality officials expect to smash those new records this year. Occupancy and room rates booth are up significantly.

Miami’s presence in technology, healthcare and other new or dynamic industries also is on the rise. We were a rich, multi-cultural, multi-lingual city well before most other areas were even aware of those terms, and we always will be positioned as the gateway to the Americas.

Key infrastructure to stimulate and sustain this growth has been set in place and/or in motion. Among many others, Miami International Airport’s expansion and enhancement is a huge benefit to the local economy. The Port of Miami tunnel will substantially stimulate and streamline transportation, trade and commerce in the heart of the city. The nearby Verizon NAP of the Americas makes downtown Miami a critical communication access point for internet users around the globe. And the proposed new Miami Beach Convention Center is sure to bring an even greater boost and enormous increase in events, conventions, visitors and overall economic activity to an already vibrant area.

Then, take all of those positive and promising economic factors today, combine them with Miami’s uniquely entrepreneurial history and environment, and we have an amazing opportunity in front of us for business creation and growth.

A recent study reported in The Herald — the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor U.S. Report — showed that we are 30 percent more entrepreneurial than the rest of the nation. That is no surprise to us at Entrepreneurs’ Organization – South Florida. We are the world’s fourth-largest chapter of an organization that has 9,000 members in more than 40 countries. Our local members run businesses that employ 25,000 South Floridians and generate more than $1 billion in revenues in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

We are proud to be part of a fantastic new support system that will play a big role in fostering and fueling this South Florida prosperity.

In addition to all the traditional organizations — chambers of commerce, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, SCORE and more — that promote commerce big and little, our area has a broad new mix of mentoring organizations that focus on small business, startups and other entrepreneurial pursuits.

Some of these include Startup Florida, Incubate Miami, Venture Hive and many more. EO-SOFLO is proud to have worked with numerous local mentoring organizations, including those that foster early entrepreneurial inspiration for our local students. The University of Miami Launch Pad, FIU’s Pino Entrepreneurship Center, Miami Dade College Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center are examples of outstanding programs to nurture our future businesses and business leaders.

Many of these groups are covered in The Herald’s own Starting Gate blog, which itself is a great resource and reflection of the area’s entrepreneurial energy.

With so many encouraging elements indicating shining days soon ahead for South Florida businesses, we’re betting this blog will be busy reporting on a growing multitude of new success stories.

It’s never been more exciting than today to be an entrepreneur in South Florida, and business looks bright here for years to come.

Mark Sanna is CEO of Miami-based Breakthrough Coaching and president of Entrepreneurs’ Organization – South Florida.

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