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Front Page » Opinion » Hurricane Flags Wont Wave Away Global Business Interests

Hurricane Flags Wont Wave Away Global Business Interests

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Written by on December 8, 2005

By Michael Lewis
Though we fretted about their legacy, hurricanes that walloped Miami’s economy this year didn’t deflect strong business interests from abroad.

Three Spanish banks line up to open here, business missions arrive and trade shows woo customers, foreign airlines seek links to Miami International Airport, and European and Asian companies continue to make Miami their steppingstone into Latin America.

The disaster of Wilma hasn’t slashed these ties. The international community recognizes that no region is immune to catastrophe, and the chances of a natural disaster usually take a back seat to opportunities here.

In the four weeks in which we bounced back after Wilma, in fact, we documented a continued flurry of two-way interests that bodes well for Miami’s future not just as a gateway to Latin America but as a global powerhouse.

Most visible was last week’s Art Basel Miami Beach, at which dealers from around the globe sold millions of dollars worth of art to patrons from around the globe. That marks Miami as a renowned marketplace for sophisticated collectors, some of whom over the years will go from annual visitors to frequent guests, then to buyers of second or third or fourth residences and perhaps to owners of primary residences and operators of businesses here. That tried-and-true blueprint for how Greater Miami has grown in international stature thus will expand to the elite in the global art-collecting world, a cultured and valuable addition to our community.

Indeed, patrons of Saturday’s Miami Art Museum Ball included global collectors and artists visiting for Art Basel, some of whom said they spend more and more time in Miami as a direct result of the globally famed art fair. One said that at the outset of Art Basel four years ago, he bought a Miami Beach condo. The fair’s impact extends far beyond the art world.

No doubt foreign visitors heavily influence the record tourism pace we reported a month ago despite the added burdens these guests now face in antiterrorism security. The strong desire to visit Miami is spawning efforts like that of Ireland’s Aer Lingus to bring its flights here.

Interest is also strong from Germany. German automakers focus ongoing operations here on an expanding Latin American market even while Miami’s own luxury-auto sales leap off the charts as Latin American buyers who can drive in greater safety here than in their homelands spend heavily. And Germans plan not only caviar bars here but possibly a caviar production plant in Homestead.

Business goes both ways, of course. Miami companies participated in a mid-November trade mission to Germany and then to Switzerland that focused on biotechnology and the life sciences during which the University of Miami and a Munich university signed an agreement to collaborate in engineering and information technology.

Among the major international visits to Miami in the past month have been the almost 2,000 delegates to the Federacion Latinoamericana de Bancos. These bankers, who huddle once a year, bring that event to Miami every other year, cementing our position as banking capital of Latin America. And this week, the annual Caribbean Central American Action conference – always held in Miami – brought 600 delegates to look at strengthening 24 economies in the region.

There was more. The eighth Americas Food & Beverage Show brought buyers for restaurants and hotels, supermarkets and drug stores and importers and exporters from 90 nations to the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Miami Free Zone was looking to sign as many as five Korean companies as tenants. Fourteen Spanish businesses visited to look for business opportunities. Two Chinese missions were in the works for 2006. And Canada moved to surpass Brazil and become the top buyer of Florida’s goods and services.

Even hurricanes don’t slow the rush of global business to Miami. As long as we keep the climate for international business favorable, the forecast threat for a decade of hurricanes won’t blow our global partnerships away. Top Front Page About Miami Today Put Your Message in Miami Today Contact Miami Today © Copyright 2005 Miami Today designed and produced by Green Dot Advertising and Marketing

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