2012 Economic Yearbook
Businesses to Watch
Foreign buyers — paying in cash — have scooped up second homes and investment properties in Miami. [Photo: iStockphoto]
» Grosskopf Group: Seizing on a surge in interest from foreign buyers for condominiums, Argentina-based Grosskopf Group has acquired five sites around the county, including in Sunny Isles Beach and Miami's Biscayne Corridor area.
» Banah International: The sugar producer, which leased more than 300,000 square feet in Hialeah at the end of 2011, is one of several importers establishing much larger local operations.
» Terra Group: The Miami developer is one of a small group that has been buying land in Doral with plans for major residential and mixed-use developments.
People to Watch
» Carlos Gimenez: The Miami-Dade County mayor will likely face off with county labor unions and taxpayers as he attempts to put together a balanced budget and a campaign for re-election this November.
» Fernando and Ignacio Zulueta: The brothers are major political donors and owners of the for-profit charter school management company Academica Corp., which runs more than 60 schools with $158 million in revenue in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
» Frank Nero: The Beacon Council president has come out against gambling and called for an independent task force to study the idea of destination casinos, although the economic development organization has remained neutral.
» Carlos Migoya: The Jackson Health System CEO continues to try to put the public health system's finances in order, renegotiating its relationship with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and contemplating significant layoffs.
Community leaders and voters are divided over whether expanded gambling should be allowed in the county.
Issues to Watch
» Gambling: No issue looms larger for the county than expanded gambling. Although bills paving the way for destination resort casinos are dead this year, governments and business groups throughout the county will continue to debate its merits. The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce voted to support expanded gambling, with caveats. The city of Miami Beach voted to oppose it, and polls show voters throughout the county split on the idea of large-scale casinos.
» Foreclosures: Industry watchers expect the wave of foreclosure activity to remain strong. They say mortgage-holders are moving slowly through their distressed loans, filing a steady stream of foreclosures and slowly selling off bank-owned or short-sale properties in hopes that they won't completely upset the market. One out of every 35 homes and condos in Miami-Dade was in some stage of foreclosure last year, according to RealtyTrac. That compares to a nationwide average of one out of every 69. The number of new foreclosure filings was on a generally upward trend during the second half of 2011, according to data from RealtyTrac.