Small businesses are the “heartbeat” of South Florida’s economy, and their soul is cultural diversity, says Brittany Morgan, economic resilience director at the Miami Foundation, which has chosen to promote asset ownership with a $20-million gift from Wells Fargo’s Open For Business program.
The first four financial awards were in a category called Collective Real Estate Ownership, which allows partnerships to make down payments on commercial real estate that their members will share. The largest award, $500,000, went to the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Americans for Immigrant Justice, establishing a multipurpose office complex with community space in North Miami. Invizio, Zia, and BC3 — Black-led firms specializing in IT, construction and architecture — will buy and share office space in an Allapattah warehouse. Teen Up-Ward Bound and Merrick-Damon Real Estate School will buy property to co-locate their services to Opa-Locka families.
Three service agencies in North Miami will buy commercial retail space for four storefronts for North Miami business-people who can buy shares in it. Partnering agencies are Catalyst Miami, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida and South Florida Community Development Coalition.
In the future, Open for Business assistance to help minority-led small businesses will be through microgrants to buy technology and equipment and through low-interest loans.
“We’re trying to drive resources and investments to places that don’t already have a thriving small-business corridor,” says Morgan. “We’re serving some of the most marginalized, but once they are able to get their affairs in order by the assistance we provide them, they are then prepared to seek traditional financing. They become more bankable as a result of these types of initiatives and investments.”
- Miami health-tech startup Ostro, formerly known as RxDefine, increased its revenue 250% in 2022 and reached venture capital funding of $55 million.
- Northeastern University will open a Miami campus in the Wynwood neighborhood this year, offering programs focused on technology, health care and finance. The university is state-approved to offer 20+ graduate programs in high-growth areas such as biotechnology, computer science, data, analytics and engineering. The CIO and regional dean of the Miami campus will be Maria C. Alonso, banking executive and former chief of United Way Miami.
- Miami Dade College and Florida International University are among five Florida universities that will share $5 million in grants from Blackstone to expand the investment company's LaunchPad entrepreneurial skills-building programs. Blackstone Charitable Foundation earmarked the money for schools that serve high concentrations of minority students.
- The Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, a branch of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, broke ground in January on the Pauline O. Lawrence Student Residence. It will be the first UF building named for an African-American. Lawrence is professor emerita in physiology and biochemistry at UF and has made major contributions to the study and control of fruit flies, which are hazardous to Florida produce. She was the only Black female student in entomology in the 1970s and was the first woman to live and study at the Tropical Research and Education Center.
- Jackson Health System has named Chris A. Ghaemmaghami, an emergency physician with experience in public health, hospital leadership and academic medicine, as executive vice president, chief physician executive, and chief clinical officer. He also will work with the University of Miami Health System.
- JPMorgan Chase has committed $7.45 million to help increase the supply of climate-resilient affordable housing this year in Miami-Dade County, particularly in underserved neighborhoods. Two non-profits will share the funding: Miami Homes for All, receiving $4.45 million, and Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), receiving $3 million. Both organizations serve minority urban communities such as Liberty City and Allapattah. JPMorgan has earmarked $400 million nationwide by 2026 to shrink disparities that make homes less affordable for people of color.
- Holland & Knight and Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis have agreed to merge. The combined firm will operate under the Holland & Knight name and have nearly 2,000 attorneys in 35 offices across the U.S. and internationally. “We look forward to joining forces with one of the most established and well-respected brands in health care law, along with remarkable capabilities in many other key industries and practices that are well aligned with our strategic initiatives,” says Holland & Knight managing partner Steven Sonberg of Miami.
- Several airlines have added flights at Miami International Airport, including: Avianca flights to Bucaramanga, Pereira, and Santa Marta, raising to nine its number of non-stop destinations in Colombia; Sky High non-stop flights to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; French Bee non-stop service to Paris-Orly Airport; GOL service to Manaus, Brazil; and Air Canada non-stop service to Vancouver. The number of non-stop destinations at MIA now numbers 176, surpassing its pre-pandemic record high.