Chapman, Dolara cited as shapers of Miami's business landscape
By Risa Polansky
Until 1989, American Airlines flew to only two Latin American countries: Venezuela and Mexico.
Now, with Miami International Airport as the airline's third-largest hub, American flies to 39 destinations in 18 Latin American countries — one reason Miami's known as the gateway to Latin America.
Peter J. Dolara, the airline's senior vice president of Miami, Caribbean and Latin America, is credited in part for leading the charge.
To honor Mr. Dolara and others who have helped shape Miami's economic landscape, the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's economic development engine, is to hold its sixth annual Beacon Awards Feb. 27.
In selecting its recipients, the council looks for leaders "who have contributed to the community and made Miami what it is today," said Holly Wiedman, executive vice president of economic development.
Mr. Dolara is to receive the council's most prestigious honor, the Jay Malina Award, given each year to a professional credited with contributions to the growth of his industry in Miami-Dade.
"American's growth of the Miami hub has been critical to the local trade and commerce and has enabled Miami to maintain and grow its status as the gateway to the Americas," Mr. Dolara said in an e-mail.
"Many multinationals as well as division headquarters establish their home in Miami due to the ability to fly throughout the hemisphere."
The aviation industry makes a $25.6 billion impact locally, Ms. Wiedman noted, supplying 272,000 jobs.
Mr. Dolara called the award "the recognition of American Airlines and its people and what American has meant to the growth of Miami" and said it belongs also to the airline's 9,000 Miami employees "as well as the more than 80,000 employees in our company that support our efforts, selling Miami and South Florida as a destination."
Ms. Wiedman lauded Mr. Dolara's efforts to endorse the area.
"He has been a leader in promoting Miami as a world center and has been a partner with us (the Beacon Council) on that," she said.
The council saw more than 100 nominations for its various awards, more than 30 for the Jay Malina alone, she said.
Winners are chosen by a panel of judges made up of the council's current and former chairmen, as well as its chair-elect and president and CEO.
The Chairman's Award, which honors an individual for dedicating his life to shaping Miami, is to be presented to Alvah Chapman Jr, Chairman of Knight Ridder for nearly 30 years, a Knight Ridder director for 40 years and a director of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for 31 years.
"It means a lot to me," Mr. Chapman said in a phone interview. "Miami's been good to me; my business career was mostly in Miami. I wanted to do what I could to make it a better place."
He was instrumental in reorganizing the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce in 1967, and though never involved with the Beacon Council, said "the chamber and the Beacon Council complement each other."
The re-invigorated chamber, he said, has "been a good influence on Miami, contributed to its progress immensely."
Mr. Chapman was key in reviving Miami after Hurricane Andrew, serving as chairman of We Will Rebuild.
He is the founding chairman also of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.
A leader in Miami since 1960, Mr. Chapman has seen many changes in the community as he's helped shape it and says "what I hope for the future is that all these condos they built downtown get occupied."
As a third-generation newspaperman, the industry's "changed a lot" as well, he said.
But it lived through the invention of radio and television, he said, and will too survive the dot-com era.
"Our civilization would not be successful without a newspaper," Mr. Chapman said. "There's just a job that a newspaper can do that no other media can do."
Mr. Dolara foresees growth in his own industry.
"I believe there is much potential for growth into Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America from Miami. Just this past year we began service from MIA to Barranquilla, Colombia and Cozumel, Mexico," he said. "We also began year-round non-stop service to Montevideo, Uruguay and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We also added additional flights to destinations such as Sao Paulo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile."
But "our Miami hub needs to continue to grow," he said. "It is critical that we continue working in partnership with Miami-Dade County to complete the North Terminal Development Project so that we can effectively compete with other hubs such as Houston and Atlanta."
Still, Mr. Dolara said, "I am a strong believer that working together with Miami-Dade County and organizations such as the Beacon Council, Miami will retain its status as the gateway to the Americas."
The Beacon Awards are to be held 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail. RSVP and details: (305)579-1382.
Other Beacon Award winners included:
EDUCATION AWARD WINNER: St. Thomas University, Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, president
THE JUDGES' SPECIAL AWARD WINNER: Multivision Video & Film, Robert S. Berkowitz, president
THE MAKE IT MIAMI AWARD WINNER: Bertram Yachts, Inc., Giovanni B. Vacchi, executive chairman
THE CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY AWARD WINNER: WFOR / CBS 4, Shaun A. McDonald, president and general manager
AVIATION AWARD: Martinair, Peter Scholten, vice president and general manager of the Americas
BIOSCIENCE AWARD: Noven Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Robert C. Strauss, president, CEO and chairman
BUSINESS SERVICES AWARD: CAMACOL, Latin American Chamber of Commerce of the US, William Alexander, president and CEO
FILM, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT AWARD: Live Nation Worldwide, Michael Rapino, CEO
FINANCIAL SERVICES AWARD: U.S. Century Bank, Octavio Hernandez,
president and CEO
HEALTHCARE SERVICES AWARD: Homestead Hospital, Bill Duquette, CEO
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATIONS AWARD: Compuquip Technologies, Alberto Dosal, CEO and president
INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE & MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS AWARD: Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Frank Scheibner, president & CEO USA
nVISITOR INDUSTRY AWARD: Art Basel Miami Beach