Written by Miami Today on March 17, 2005
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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SPORTSMAN: The Miami City Commission last week appointed Commissioner Joe Sanchez chairman of the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority. Allan Rubin was named a board member, replacing Thomasina Williams. The authority, whose future is being debated following the sale of the Miami Arena, which it managed, is considered an independent agency established in 1982 by city ordinance. It’s charged with promoting sports, conventions and exhibitions and attracting sports franchises to city facilities.
BK’S HQ HUNT: As the former Burger King headquarters in Cutler Ridge reopens this week as Palmetto Bay Village Center, its former tenant is weighing options for a new home two years after moving to Waterford. "We have been looking at various locations," said the Miami fast-food chain’s head of communications, Edna Johnson. "We’ve been looking at a number of locations in a number of areas," she said from 5505 Blue Lagoon Dr. "There is no timeframe for a decision to be made."
CRUISING THE COMPETITION: Major cruise lines are starting to make smaller ports a destination to lure new passengers, but Port of Miami Director Charles Towsley said he welcomes the competition. "Because the industry is growing, companies are offering different products and itineraries," Mr. Towsley said Tuesday at the 21st annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami Beach. "I really don’t see it as direct competition. It is really an organic growth in the industry, and frankly, I think this actually helps." Regardless where consumers get on board, he said, it helps when more travelers become familiar with the industry. Only 16% of American travelers have taken a cruise, he said.
NEW PORTS: Cruise lines are chasing customers in smaller markets, Mr. Towsley said, because of an increase in drive-in traffic following the airline-related tragedies of 9/11. Michael Bonner, vice president of corporate planning for Royal Caribbean International, agreed, saying cruise lines are choosing different port destinations because it is less expensive and more convenient for consumers. "We have been expanding our range in search of new drive markets," said Mr. Bonner, who spoke at the convention.
BIG SPLASH: The Miami River Commission’s Riverday, set for 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Jose Marti Park, will feature free riverboat tours, water taxis, music, environmental education, food and children’s activities. "Miami Riverday provides a free opportunity for the public to witness firsthand the river’s continuing renaissance," said Brett Bibeau, managing director of the commission. "With 8,000 new residential units on the rise, the river is on the brink of Miami’s exciting future." The park is at Southwest Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue. Details: (305) 361-4850 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FUNDS FLOW: The Dade Community Foundation has released more than $500,000 in grants to 71 nonprofits, 15 of which got funds through its special initiatives last year. Gifts from the 38-year-old foundation range from $2,300 to $10,000. Beneficiaries include Abundant Life Health & Fitness Center Inc. and the YMCA of Greater Miami. Applications exceeded grants by a 3-to-1 ratio, the foundation’s director of development and communications said. "We had more than 200 organizations apply," said Joe Pena. "If we had more dollars, we could have provided more grants. But as the endowment grows, so does our reach in the community." The foundation has distributed more than $1 million in the past year.
LET’S TALK: The Summit of the Americas Center at Florida International University is offering its seventh International Commerce Course, which analyzes three bilateral agreements and incorporates game situations whereby students become part of the "negotiation table." Created in 2001, the course has granted close to 300 certifications to participants from nearly 20 nations. Fees are reduced for multiple members of any organization. Dates are May 4-13. Details: (305) 348-2894 or email@example.com.
ORANGE AID: The 322-member Orange Bowl Committee, a volunteer group that supports the Orange Bowl and other South Florida events, has elected 11 new members – Agustin R. Arellano, owner of Arellano Construction Co.; J. Ricky Arriola, president of Inktel Direct Corp.; Timothy A. Battle, director of commercial insurance for Keen Battle Mead & Co.; Lettie J. Bien, CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce; Charles H. Johnson, attorney at Richman Greer Weil Brumbaugh Mirabito & Christensen; William C. Marshall, owner of TEAM Marketing; James W. Morris III, head baseball coach at the University of Miami; Mario Murgado, CEO of Brickell Motors; Sean Pittman, president of Pittman Law Group; Jose C. Romano, partner at ICO Business Outfitters; and Larry Serlo, CEO of Mark Scot Corp.
TRADE DEBATE: The Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University will present a debate on the Central American Free Trade Agreement on May 19 in the MARC Pavilion on the school’s south campus on 107th Avenue. Panelists will evaluate some of CAFTA’s potential economic impacts. Panelists scheduled are Jairo Acuña, a consultant for the World Bank; Alexander Segovia, executive director of Democracia y Desarollo Consultores; Amy Angel, an agriculture analyst for Fundacion Salvadoreña para el Desarollo Economico y Social; and Juan Alberto Fuentes, coordinator of the National Human Development Report. The moderator will be Carl Cira, director of FIU’s Summit of the Americas Center. Details: (305) 348-2894.
THE ROAD TO THE ROADS: A plaque funded by Little Havana residents can be placed in the median of Southwest 25th Road at Second Avenue, the Miami City Commission agreed Thursday. It will mark the location where the Brickell family sold land to the city for a neighborhood designed by Mary Brickell now known as the Roads. Little Havana residents agreed to buy, install and maintain the marker. "This is the original circle where they sold Miami to pioneers who came to start this great city," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez, "so this is something we can look forward to."
ATTRACTING SUPPORT: A Westchester businessman says he’s gaining support for an initiative that would bring magnetic trains to Miami-Dade County, across Florida and in 13 other states. Angel Cruz, chairman and CEO of United States Infrastructure Improvement Foundation Inc. of Coral Way, said he has met with economic development partners statewide – including Enterprise Florida – to win support for Mag-Lev trains, which run on elevated tracks and can withstand hurricanes up to Category 5. He said he would set up headquarters for the transportation network in Miami or Orlando though routes, which cost $15 million to $22 million per mile to construct, have yet to be determined.
GROWING A BANK: Community banks may be popping up across Florida, but it takes seven to nine months to open as a state-chartered institution after application, said Linda Charity, director of the state’s division of financial institutions. Applicants meet with the division and present a business plan, which includes leadership, capital sources and planned locations. The division conducts background checks, Ms. Charity said, and works with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or Federal Reserve officials to approve applications, usually within three months. Banks are not tracked for success rate, Ms. Charity said, or on future acquisitions. Details: www.dbf.state.fl.us/banking/howtoorg.html.
CORRECTION: Contact information published March 10 for Coral Gables public relations firm Lindsay and Warshaw was inaccurate. Details on the firm can be found at www.lindsaywarshaw.com or (305) 448-1984.