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New Miami Blog

Insights and Commentary on the Gateway City's Expanding Global Significance

Growing Trend: Private Investment in Infrastructure and Transportation

As P3 Bulletin, the New York Times and Richard Cavallaro, the new CEO of  international construction company Skanska’s US operations, have recently stated, the increase in private investment and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs or P3s) bodes well for the plans to develop and implement much needed infrastructure and transportation upgrades around the United States. As federal funds remain limited and difficult to secure, private investment may not only be the most efficient way to develop major infrastructure projects, but also the only economically feasible way.

The New York Times highlighted that the federal government has invested $11 billion since 2009 to develop high-speed rail within the US. Given the 25 year timeline, experts have expressed that the current pace of spending and development of high-speed rail must be accelerated. Among the issues that must be addressed is the failing infrastructure of tracks and bridges on which the new high-speed trains would need to run. Private investment to fund such infrastructure projects has been identified by the U.S. Department of Treasury as one means to augment the government’s investment. Private investors include philanthropic organizations such as the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, who recently announced a joint investment of over $1 million to support innovative public-private partnerships for infrastructure. P3s are an effective and economical way to use private investment and enable public and private collaboration to bridge funding gaps and make infrastructure modernization plans possible.

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Florida Courts and Forum Selection Clauses

You may be surprised to find out that, unlike its sunny beaches and popular resorts, Florida courts may not be hospitable to hearing your clients’ claims and you may not have a sufficient basis to defeat a jurisdictional objection lodged by the adverse party — even where the adverse party agreed to designate Miami as the appropriate forum, waived its jurisdictional objections and agreed to designate Florida law as applicable.

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GIS Technology Supports Port Efficiency and Expansion

Known as the Cargo Gateway to the Americas and currently home to 13 cruise lines, Port Miami is a vital economic anchor of Miami -Dade County. The Port employs more than 200,000 in the South Florida region and contributes $27 billion annually to the local economy. While more than 4 million cruise passengers traveled through the Port in 2013, cargo traffic growth continued to climb­—it is up 13 percent since 2009. Strong growth is projected for the future through infrastructure improvements such as the Deep Dredge, the Tunnel, and the re-introduction of on-port rail service through a partnership with the Florida East Coast Railway. This expansion is a boon to the economy but coordinating such volumes of cargo traffic and cruise passengers presents a clear challenge to port operators.

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Venture for America announces its first Miami class

In yet another sign that the Miami tech scene is poised for continued growth, Venture for America (VFA), a nonprofit organization that recruits bright college graduates and places them in emerging startups for a two-year period, recently announced its first class of Miami Fellows.

Founded in 2011, VFA recognized that every year a large number of talented, entrepreneurial college graduates look for ways to get involved in the start-up ecosystem, while at the same time, many promising early-stage companies struggle to identify and recruit such graduates. Enter VFA Founder and CEO Andrew Yang. Andrew, a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, drew inspiration from the program Teach for America, which similarly recruits recent graduates and places them in high-need schools around the country for a two-year period, and founded VFA.

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Growing Salaries for South Florida’s High-Tech Workers

South Florida’s burgeoning tech-startup scene has helped catapult the region into one of the nation’s fastest growing high-tech hubs, luring not just innovative entrepreneurs, but all manner of high-tech workers hoping to capitalize on the next big idea as well. The high-tech workers heading to South Florida will be happy to know that this growth is happening not just in their industry, but also in their paychecks.

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Miami: The Next Entrepreneurial Frontier

We spend a lot of time looking into where our city is headed on our New Miami blog, and we are truly excited about the opportunities for innovation in Miami. On the heels of the success of various events focused on entrepreneurship in Miami, such as eMerge Americas Techweek and the Knight Foundation’s Start-Up City, we decided that, as part of our next installment of the New Miami Breakfast Series, it would be particularly useful to discuss how Miami is working to attract both entrepreneurs and investors and continue the momentum of growth. On October 2nd, we will be hosting “Miami: The Next Entrepreneurial Frontier.” We will share the insight we have gathered from our clients and colleagues and discuss the challenges we are facing.

In recent years, entrepreneurs and angel investors have flocked to Miami as the next frontier for innovation and creative growth. Widely known as the capital of Latin America, the city has become ground zero for a flood of Latin American startups. In fact, in 2013 Miami raked in about $300 million in venture capital, a significant increase from previous years. However, while there is a high concentration of new ventures, and an increased amount of incoming capital, there are a variety of hurdles and challenges to overcome in order to ensure South Florida’s continued growth in this arena, and guarantee its competitiveness with larger urban metropolises.

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Establishment of Chinese Consulate-General in Miami

On September 3rd, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners adopted the resolution directing the Mayor to develop a plan to establish a Chinese Consulate-General in Miami, by a 12-0 vote.  Currently, the Chinese Consulate-General in Houston covers Florida as part of its consular jurisdiction.  A Chinese Consulate-General located in Miami-Dade County would not only alleviate the significant burden on local residents to obtain visas to visit China, but also promote greater Chinese investments in South Florida, and tourism and trade relationships.

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Free Trade Zones in Miami a Boon to International Companies

Free trade zones are federally designated areas that are officially considered outside of the commerce and customs territory of the United States. The appeal to international companies established in free trade zones include duty elimination, deferral and reduction of insurance costs, minimized regulatory compliance, and more efficient operations. With the anticipated influx of cargo ships from the widening of the Panama Canal, there will likely be signification interest in Miami-based free trade zones. Increased free trade zone activities will likely generate employment for County residents and increase local participation in international trade.

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Miami’s Entrepreneurial Landscape Evolves

Guest blog post written by Seth Werner, Chairman/CEO Harbour Real Estate Corporation.

In 2013, Miami raked in about $300 million in venture capital, a staggering jump from previous years. While Miami has always had its fair share of entrepreneurial activity, historically it has had issues with keeping many startups. That’s quickly changing.

Contributing to the uptick in venture capital investment are the efforts of several different organizations to attract tech startups. These efforts include Manny Medina’s “eMerge Americas Techweek Conference” and the Knight Foundation’s “Start-Up City: Miami.” Considering the number of attendants and the buzz throughout the community, I think it’s fair to say this is only the beginning of exponential growth in the Magic City.

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Miami Developers Utilizing Non Traditional Sources of Venture Capital

With all the current and planned building projects taking place in South Florida, it seems the recent real estate crash has largely been forgotten. However, the collapse still haunts traditional lending institutions, many of whom are unwilling or unable to finance Miami’s present building boom. Further, as Jeff Bartel, chairman of Benworth Capital Partners LLC points out, “Regulatory constraints remain an impediment for accessing debt financing that borrowers require to acquire or develop property under the traditional levered model.”

This doesn’t mean that banks aren’t lending at all; they are just more selective in the projects they fund. Eleazar David Melendez of the Daily Business Review writes, “Banks have generally been loathe to lend to any but the lowest-risk projects: those being built by experienced developers in prime locations.” CBRE vice chairman Charles Foschini adds, banks are generally staying away from the “high-dollar commitments needed for many of the mixed-use, luxury megaprojects currently on the drawing boards.” Examples of some of Miami’s current bank-funded projects are Miami Beach’s Loews hotel, landing a $175 million loan by the U.S. arm of Germany’s Deutsche Bank; the Downtown Doral project, at $65 million; the condo building at 5252 Paseo, $40.3 million; and an up-coming 80,000-square-foot retail building, $25 million, all funded by Wells Fargo.

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