70% of companies aided to move to Miami are foreign
By Scott Blake
Greater Miami's business community is becoming increasingly diverse, as companies from outside the US continue to invest in facilities and create jobs here.
The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development organization, summed up why Miami is appealing in its annual report:
"Known as the Gateway to the Americas, Miami-Dade has become a platform for companies looking to tap into North American, European, Latin American and Asian markets," the report states.
"Attracted by Miami's unmatched access, world-class banking and professional services and a highly skilled multilingual, multicultural workforce, companies from all over the world are listening closely to the Beacon Council's message and making Miami-Dade County home."
The council has reason to be optimistic. Of the 20 companies the council assisted in moving to Greater Miami during the 2010-11 fiscal year, 14 of them, or 70%, were foreign companies, ranging in origin from Canada and Mexico to China and Spain.
Those new foreign arrivals added 751 jobs and spent nearly $33.3 million in capital investments, according a Miami Today analysis of Beacon Council data.
The council seeks out such international business opportunities by participating in international industry tradeshows and conferences, touting the area's competitive advantages, among other marketing initiatives.
In July, for example, a delegation from Tianjin, China, visited Miami and joined in meetings and events, including discussions about business opportunities. The visit was organized by the Miami office of law firm Carlton Fields, a Beacon Council member.
Overall, the council either hosted or participated in meetings with 18 foreign delegations, representing 15 countries, during the past fiscal year.
When foreign employers move to Miami, they often create the types of jobs that local economic planners are vying for.
Stephen Beatus, the council's associate vice president of economic development, said China's Mindray was a notable project in the past year.
The company is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices, with more than 6,000 employees worldwide. Although Mindray was slated to initially create only 16 local jobs, it is in an industry for which planners see big growth potential.
Mindray's plans include having a research center in Miami focused on applied research and product development in the fields of advanced in-vitro diagnostics, scientific instrumentation and medical devices, according to the council.
In terms of sheer job creation, Italy's TrueStar Group was among the past year's top foreign arrivals.
Slated to create 157 jobs here, TrueStar Group is an airport service provider that includes passenger assistance and luggage wrapping. The company services 22 airports in 13 nations, and established offices in Miami-Dade followed a bid secured at Miami International Airport, the council said.
Another big foreign arrival was Canada's Convergia Telecom, which was expected to create 100 jobs with a capital investment of $10 million. Founded in 1998, Montreal-based Convergia is among the largest privately-owned global telecom networks.
However, marketing Greater Miami to foreign businesses is always a challenge, Beacon Council CEO and President Frank Nero told Miami Today.
"For a company to know the diversity of our economy here," he said, "we need to do it through marketing, and marketing costs money."
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