Written by Miami Today on November 27, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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HOME PRICES SOAR: Median prices of home resales in the Miami market soared 27% higher in October from October 2002, the Florida Association of Realtors said Tuesday, while the number of homes sold dipped 7%. The median price of $232,800 was third-highest in the state, behind Naples’ $323,300 and West Palm Beach’s $246,600. The statewide average price was $161,100, and 15% more resales were made statewide.
HOTEL RATES: Hotel occupancy and room rates released this week show Miami above the Florida and national averages. For the week of Nov. 9-15, 74.8% of Miami-Dade County hotel rooms were occupied at an average $107.99. Occupancy rates were 59% nationally and 63.4% in Florida. Miami’s occupancy is not increasing as much as in other areas, but room rates here are rising the most.
DUAL DEGREES: South American graduate-school students can pursue a master’s of international business degree from Florida International University though a new dual-degree program. FIU’s Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Graduate School of Business on Monday announced the partnership with five universities in Montevideo, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro; Mexico City; Buenos Aires; and Santiago. Three students in the new program, all with MBA degrees from a Brazilian university, will start in January, said program director Anna Pietraszek. Two more, one from Brazil and one from Uruguay, are expected for the summer session. The students will travel here for courses and would be eligible for special visas for a yearlong training program at a US corporation. If there is interest from local FIU students, Ms. Pietraszek said, the program might be reversed to send students abroad. Details: (305) 348-3279.
HEALTHY INTEREST: Miami-Dade County is seeking five people to serve on the Public Health Trust Board of Trustees. Applications to join the 20-member board that oversees Jackson Memorial Hospital are due by mail at 4 p.m. Dec. 5 to Clerk of the Board Kay Sullivan. The county commission-appointed members will serve three year unpaid terms. For an application: (305) 375-1096.
RAISING A CAP: More businesses will be able to qualify for small-business assistance and compete as small businesses for federal contracts under a new Small Business Administration rule. Businesses in the "facilities support services" and "base maintenance" categories now can bring in up to $30 million in average annual receipts and still qualify as a small business. Previously, facility-support services were capped at $6 million and base-maintenance companies could not bring in more than $23 million without losing small-business status. The change came as a result of small businesses saying they could not compete with large companies for federal contracts because of the cap, Hector Barreto of the Small Business Administration said in a written statement.
HARD-HAT OPERA: The partially finished faÁade of the Greater Miami Performing Arts Center was filled with the arias of the Florida Grand Opera for the first time Monday as the musical troupe performed for construction workers building their future home. In hard hats rather than costumes, the performers toured the site and took the stage of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, which is more than one-third completed. The center is now due to open in late 2005 or early 2006 and house the opera along with the Concert Association of Florida, New World Symphony and Miami City Ballet.
FREE-TRADE HOME: Miami Today’s International Roundtable at a Dec. 11 breakfast will focus on efforts to win the secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Panelists are Jorge Arrizurieta, executive director of Florida FTAA Inc.; Jerry Haar, director of the Inter-American Business and Labor program at the University of Miami’s Dante B. Fascell North-South Center; Burton Landy, shareholder at law firm Akerman Senterfitt; and Manuel Mencia, Enterprise Florida director of international trade. It’s sponsored by Beacon Lakes, a development of the Codina Group and AMB Property Corp. The free session will begin at 7:45 a.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. To reserve: Claudia Fernandez at (305) 358-2663.
TALKS END, SHOPPING BEGINS: During the closing remarks of last week’s Free Trade Area of the Americas trade talks among 34 nations in downtown Miami, Canada’s trade minister, Pierre Pettigrew, thanked Miami for its hospitality and noted that his nation contributes to the local economy. "I will be in the next couple of days, too," he joked.
JEB PROMOTES SPENDING: Gov. Jeb Bush also pushed Miami’s shopping opportunities during his speech Monday to a gathering of about 100 members of the Latin American Federation of Bankers, known internationally as FELABAN, at the InterContinental Miami hotel. "Spend all the money you can," he said. "There are plenty of great places to do it."
BUSH ON BANKING: Only New York has more international banks than Florida, with 70 banks having international operations in the Sunshine State, Gov. Bush said at the FELABAN conference. In addition, one in eight jobs in Florida is related to international business and $16 million in international services flows through the state, he said. "Florida strongly supports free trade, at least this governor does," he said. A free market would "create more prosperity for more people than any government social program in the history of mankind. That is my personal belief."
BANKER BUSH: Speaking to more than 100 financiers at the Federation of Latin American Banks conference, Gov. Bush recalled his own days in the profession. "I was very good at lending money and not so good at collecting it," he said. Speaking in both English and Spanish, he told of his days in Caracas as a 24-year-old charged with leading Texas Commerce Bank’s new operations. "It was the greatest experience I ever had in my life." He said his scariest moment came when he drove his new Mercedes Benz from the dealership to his hotel and wondered what business he had gotten himself into.
TALLAHASSEE TEAM: Taking on an unprecedented second term, state Rep. Rene Garcia, a Republican from Hialeah, was re-elected chairman of the Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation. Sen. Frederica Wilson was re-elected as vice chairwoman. Both will lead the county’s 25-member delegation for another year.
WOMEN HONORED: Miami’s Chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade recognized Miami women who have promoted South Florida’s trade role. Among those recognized were Joyce Elam, business dean at Florida International University; Clemencia Tobon, CEO of Eastern National Bank; and Aida Levitan, CEO of marketing firm Publicis Sanchez and Levitan. The event also raised money for college scholarships.
HAITIAN TRIP: UM President Donna E. Shalala and Green Family Foundation founder Steven Green, former US Ambassador to Singapore, plan to visit a health clinic in Thomonde, Haiti, Tuesday and Wednesday financed by a foundation initiative. The foundation, established in 1991 by Mr. Green and his wife, Dorothea, launched the Initiative in Pediatric Infectious Diseases & Immunology and International Health at UM earlier this year to support research, education and treatment of pediatric infectious diseases. Foundation publicist Christina Denis said plans call for Ms. Shalala and Mr. Green to meet with health officials and others, including US Ambassador to Haiti Mark Foley, as they seek new sources of support and weigh the possibilities of expanding foundation programs in Haiti. The foundation earlier announced an expansion of outreach efforts through initiatives in Singapore and South Africa as well as Haiti.
THANKS, FOLKS: Developers of Ten Museum Park will give thanks for their project this Thanksgiving weekend by throwing a bash for several thousand guests Saturday in Bicentennial Park. In the spirit of the holidays, the developers say they will also donate a hefty sum to the Miami International Film Festival and Miami Arts and Entertainment Council. At 11th street and Biscayne Boulevard, the Chad Oppenheim-designed project is to contain 200 residences, 30 office condominiums, a restaurant and bar.