Downtown chips in for Medina tech event
If tech entrepreneur Manny Medina is successful, next spring’s eMerge Americas conference will put Miami on the map for technology, much as Art Basel has made it an art mecca.
Modeled after Austin, Texas-based South By Southwest (which is branded SXSW), it will bring tech companies together with potential customers from Latin America and around the world May 4-6. The main venue is to be the Miami Beach Convention Center, with satellite events on Lincoln Road and other Miami Beach locations.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” Mr. Medina told directors of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority on Friday. “IBM, Cisco — their traditional markets are slow, and there’s an immense need in Latin America.”
The conference is also Mr. Medina’s way of giving back, he said. Since he sold Terremark to Verizon in 2012 for $2 billion, he has been searching for a project that would leverage Miami’s significance as a center for tech.
SXSW, which showcases emerging technology, film, music and education, draws 200,000 people each year, Mr.Medina said, “and Austin doesn’t have the infrastructure we do,” which suggests Miami could support a more robust event.
He has signed Verizon as the major sponsor, and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has promised support — “he sees building a technology base as his legacy,” Mr. Medina said. “It’s multi-faceted, clean, and creates high-paying jobs.”
The downtown authority agreed to sponsor eMerge Americas with a grant not to exceed $50,000.
“This will be the Art Basel of technology,” Mr. Medina predicted. He noted that Miami during Art Basel is the second most popular destination for private jets — the first being the hosting city during the Super Bowl — a testament to the show’s drawing power. “And art only touches a sliver of the population; technology touches everybody.”
“Just don’t sign a long-term deal with Miami Beach,” said board member Jose Goyanes, who is also the owner of Metro Beauty Center, Churchill’s Barbershop and Tre Italian Bistro, “because one day, we’re going to have our own convention center.”