Chamber shuffles plans to accommodate Henriques
By Suzy Valentine
Two executives are switching terms as chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce - a decision approved by the chamber April 6.
Adolfo Henriques was to have assumed the position in June but asked the chamber to defer his term for a year in the wake of his appointment as CEO, chairman and president of Florida East Coast Industries in St. Augustine - a job he started at the end of last month.
The leadership role will instead be filled this year by Rosa Sugrañes, chairwoman of Iberia Tiles, who had been in line to take the post in 2007. Her term was pushed up a year when Miami Herald publisher Alberto Ibargłen, who was to have become chairman in 2006, bowed out.
"The proposal was approved by the board of directors," said Barry Johnson, the chamber's executive vice president of communications and marketing. "A decision was made to advance the tenure of Ms. Sugrañes. Mr. Henriques moves from the position of chairman-elect to next vice chair and will take up the position in 2006."
Ms. Sugrañes is scheduled to take office during the chamber's Goals Conference June 17-19. "The baton will be passed on the morning of Saturday, June 18," said Mr. Johnson, "so that Ms. Sugrañes can take office for 2005-06."
The change in order will add to Ms. Sugrañes' responsibilities. She will be chairwoman of the county's Cultural Affairs Council until October 2005.
"I'm really honored because I've been involved with the chamber for more than 10 years, but it was a bit of a shock," she said. "I didn't want overlap with the other role, but Adolfo is a good friend, and I think this is the best solution for the chamber."
There could be synergy between her two civic roles, said Ms. Sugrañes. "I believe that Miami can be a city of commerce and one of culture," she said. "The two go together."
It will be a critical year for the city's cultural landscape. The Miami Performing Arts Center is to be substantially completed on June 4, 2006.
"The chamber should be very involved in that part of town," she said. "The arts center has been a catalyst to revitalization of real estate and retail as well as general economic development in that area."
Outgoing chairman Allen Harper, head of EWM Realtors in Miami, listed some of the challenges Ms. Sugrañes will face in office.
"She'll need to make sure that Miami-Dade Public Schools are sufficiently funded," said Mr. Harper. "The system has suffered cutbacks of $50 million within the past few years.
"Transportation and its funding has come to the forefront in recent months," he said, "as well as ingress and egress at the Port of Miami. Then there's the abundance of condos being built in downtown."
Ms. Sugrañes will inherit a chamber with 2,500 corporate members and 5,000 volunteers.
"She must reflect the passion of the membership," said Mr. Harper. "Regionalism is also key. Businesses aren't like governments confined by county lines. We represent an integrated market of South Florida."
Ms. Sugrañes grew up in Barcelona - a city she said Miami can learn from. "The city's very important in the Mediterranean," she said. "It has more than 2,000 years of history. It's a great trading port and is cruise capital of the Mediterranean.
"Culture and its promotion are very important. Miami only became a big city about 30 years ago, so it's got a long way to go."
Ms. Sugrañes founded Iberia Tiles after she came to Miami-Dade County in 1980. "I came here when I was 22 years old," she said, "and I still go back three times a year. My family has been in the tiles market for three generations in Spain. "