Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Dollar signs: Small business are feeling upbeat

Miami area small-business owners are feeling increasingly optimistic about growing their businesses: In November, 68% of small-business owners in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties predicted a 12-month increase in revenue, up from 54% who made the same prediction earlier in the spring. Those predictions aren’t based on expectations of strong consumer spending (65% are actually worried about it), says Odalis Martinez, Miami small-business banking manager for Bank of America, which surveyed business owners for its “Fall 2014 Small Business Owner Report.” Rather, “they are more confident in the local, national and global economy than a year ago,” she says.

That confidence is built on the strength of local indicators, says Leandro Finol, director of Miami Dade College’s entrepreneurial center, the Idea Center@MDC. “Every single major sector — construction, real estate, tourism, international trade, banking and creative industries — are all experiencing a tremendous amount of growth,” he says, adding that the companies MDC works with “are hiring and their sales are growing for the most part.” 

The Miami-area business owners that Bank of America surveyed believe growth will continue — 78% expect their business to expand during the next five years; that’s up from just half who had robust expectations earlier in 2014. Finol says the biggest roadblock is attracting talent, noting that this is particularly acute in areas such as data analytics, coding and digital marketing.

Among concerns of smallbusiness owners in Miami: 65% are worried about consumer spending (vs. 59% nationwide) and 51% are concerned about the availability of credit (vs. 44% nationwide). 

Business Briefs

CORAL GABLES — Startup energy technology company Gables Energy Partners merged with Coalview and also acquired North Miami Beach-based chemical manufacturer Electrolytic Technologies. > Toronto, Canadabased real estate brokerage Avison Young acquired Miami-based commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group for an undisclosed sum.

DORAL — Badia Spices plans to open a 101,000-sq.-ft. distribution hub near its existing manufacturing and distribution operations. The Miami-Dade Industrial Development Authority is helping to fund the expansion with $10.5 million in bond funds that would be paid off by the company’s revenue. > World Fuel Services sold its interest in a crude oil joint venture in North Dakota to its partner for $43 million plus future payments related to how many barrels of crude the company process.

KEY LARGO — Developer Eric Soulavy purchased the Marina Inn (part of the Ocean Reef community) for $20 million and plans to develop 30 condominium units on the three-acre waterfront property.

KEY WEST — The 96- room Marker Waterfront Resort became the first hotel to open in the city’s Old Town area in more than two decades.

MARATHON — The Hyatt Place Hotel and Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club opened with 125 rooms and 74 boat slips. It is located on the site of the Faro Blanco Marine Resort, which closed in 2005 after flooding from Hurricane Wilma.

MIAMI — The city commission rejected a $121-million, privately funded plan to restore Miami Marine Stadium by leasing it and two-dozen waterfront acres to the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium. The commission voted instead to pursue a city plan focused on the stadium alone, likely with public money. > Venture capital fund Richmond Global Ventures, which is known for successful emerging market investments, opened an office in Miami, its third after offices in Silicon Valley and New York. > ITC Center Miami and BH Downtown Miami proposed a mixeduse, 77-story skyscraper called “World Trade Center of the Americas” for a site in downtown Miami. The building would be the tallest in the city and would include retail and office space, parking, hotel rooms and residential units. > BP gave the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science $29 million to study the economic impact of the 2011 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. > Spafnder Wellness is moving its headquarters from New York City to Miami.

MIAMI BEACH — A judge approved Lake Forest, Ill.-based Z Capital’s winning bid in the bankruptcy auction for Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa. The $21.6-million bid covers unsold units, common areas, the spa and the right to run hotel operations. > The Eden Roc Miami Beach hotel has begun construction on the 210-room Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc Miami Beach, with the hotel-within- a-hotel set to open late this year.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY — Jackson Health System, the county’s public health system, reported a nearly $51-million budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Profile: The Vagabond Group

Last summer, the Vagabond Group cemented the revitalization of the Miami Modern historic district with the opening of the refurbished Vagabond Hotel, an iconic MiMo gem built in 1953. The company is now renovating and restoring other MiMo properties.

Avra Jain, Vagabond Group founder and chairman, financed the renovations under a city of Miami program that allows owners of historically designated buildings to sell “air rights.” That refers to mid-rise and low-rise buildings’ unused development rights, which high-rise developers then use to enlarge their projects. Vagabond was the first company in Miami to use the city’s transfer of development rights program.

The proceeds must be plowed back into renovating the historic property, and Jain says she’s sold more than a million square feet of air rights to developers from Vagabond’s various holdings.