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Growing problem: Miami tries to get beyond the startup phase

Miami ranks tops nationwide for startups but near the bottom for scaling up new businesses, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation.

Why the discrepancy? Growing a business requires different skills and assets than starting one, says Jason Wiens, the foundation’s policy director. “Entrepreneurship is not a monolithic thing.”

The area generates many startups because it has a large number of immigrants who decide to start businesses after seeing opportunity in south Florida’s growing population and its easy access to customers in Latin America, Europe and the U.S.

Growth, however, “is not about an idea but execution, not a stand-out individual but a cohesive team, not creative chaos but structures, processes and procedures,” says Jacqueline Sousa, regional director of the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida International University, which helps businesses expand. Many entrepreneurs in Miami aren’t interested in making that shift, and others can’t, she says. They may lack management skills or be unable to find experienced senior executives because Miami-Dade is dominated by small firms.

Companies looking to grow also face challenges finding funding locally, says Laura Maydon, Miami director for Endeavor, which helps high-impact entrepreneurs grow their businesses by providing mentors and other services through a global network.

Local leaders are trying to address the problem. The Miamibased Knight Foundation has pumped more than $28 million since 2012 into 200-plus programs aimed at nurturing and scaling up startups, including Endeavor’s Miami office.

There’s progress on funding, too. TheVentureCity — a technology company accelerator founded in Miami Beach this summer by a group of former executives from Facebook, Google, eBay and other tech giants — recently launched a $100-million fund to invest in tech startups poised for hyper-growth globally. It’s already invested in four Miami-based companies. TheVentureCity Fund joins several other early-stage investment funds launched in the area in recent years, including Krillion Ventures and Rokk3r Fuel EXO.

“Hopefully, this gives a green light for others to come,” Maydon says. “You need a few success stories in scale-up of entrepreneurship, so they have a multiplier effect in the ecosystem.” — Doreen Hemlock

Innovation: Making MAGIC

In 2015, Brazil-born Mauricio Ferrazza launched the Miami Animation and Gaming International Center (MAGIC), an associ-ate’s degree program at Miami Dade College. MAGIC this year is near capacity at 460 students.

Before starting MAGIC, Ferrazza had worked for 14 years in motion graphics at Univision and also ran online programs for years for a private arts institute offering bachelor’s degrees in animation. To create MAGIC, MDC invested nearly $6 million in a 12,000-sq.-ft. space with state-of-theart computer, audio and film studios.
— Doreen Hemlock


  • Nelson Lazo, CEO of Doctors Hospital, is chairman of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
  • World Fuel Services hired Jeff Smith as COO and executive vice president. He had been IBM’s chief information officer.
  • ILG promoted Jeanette Marbert to president and CEO of its vacation exchange and rental operating segment, which includes Interval International. Marbert, the company’s former COO, replaces the retiring David C. Gilbert.
  • Chase Bank promoted George Acevedo, the Miami-based regional director for its Florida market, to the new position of head of consumer banking for its south division (covering Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Oklahoma).
  • Jeff Watts joined Bank Leumi as its southeast market president, based in Aventura. He had been with City National Bank of Florida.

Business Briefs

CORAL GABLES — Louisiana- based IberiaBank will acquire Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust in a stock transaction valued at $223 million. IberiaBank recently acquired Miami-based Sabadell United Bank. Californiabased Exajoule acquired mobile-fueling service company GasNinjas in a cash and stock deal the company would only say was a “multimilliondollar deal.”

DORAL — TissueTech received four U.S. patents for technology related to using placental tissue in regenerative medicine. Bostonbased TA Realty paid $135 million to purchase the 398-unit Manor CityPlace Apartments from the Related Group.

KEYS — Hawks Cay Resort, one of the largest properties to sustain hurricane damage in the Keys, laid off 260 employees, nearly its entire staff. Hawks Cay expects to reopen during late summer.

MIAMI — City National Bank is buying Total- Bank for $528 million from Banco Santander of Spain. The merged banks will have assets of almost $13 billion, $7.8 billion in loans and $8.1 billion in deposits. Total- Bank has 17 locations in Miami-Dade. Both banks are based in Miami.

A study by personal finance website SmartAsset found that between 2015 and 2016 median household income in Miami rose faster than that of any other U.S. city; it reached $34,901, up 16.4%. However, it remains well below the U. S. median of $57,000.

Voters approved borrowing $400 million in the bond market to pay for $192 million in storm drain upgrades, flood pumps and seawalls. The city will also spend about $100 million on affordable housing and economic development. Opko Health’s thyroid drug Rayaldee will be sold in Japan through a deal with Japan Tobacco. Opko will receive $12 million in upfront payments, plus additional payments worth up to $10 million, in addition to royalties on product sales. Zoning technology startup Gridics raised $1.6 million; the 3-yearold company has raised more than $3.6 million.

Miami Medical Center plans to shut down.

Miami Children’s Health System changed its name to Nicklaus Children’s Health System, after changing its flagship hospital’s name to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in 2015.

MIAMI BEACH — The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, which sustained significant damage from Hurricane Irma, laid off about 280 employees and expects to remain closed well into 2018. Several other large hotels are also expected to remain closed at least until April, including the Deauville Beach Resort Miami and the Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach/Oceanfront.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY — The county approved Apeiron Miami’s plans to build a 45-story condo and hotel tower, a health and wellness facility and a deepwater marina at the site of the Jockey Club condominiums.

MIAMI GARDENS — Chicago-based Bridge Development Partners paid $28.2 million for a 185-acre site on which it plans to build a 2-million-sq.-ft. business park called Bridge Point Commerce Center.

NORTH MIAMI — Group 1 Automotive opened a dealership, Audi North Miami, which it says is the largest Audi dealership in the world.

NORTH MIAMI BEACH — Prestige Imports Motor Group opened a dealership with an inventory of luxury cars, including vintage models, as well as a photo studio for cars.

Lennar will become the largest home builder in the U. S. when it merges with Virginia-based CalAtlantic in a stock and debtassumption deal valued at $9.3 billion. The combined entity will have revenue of more than $17 billion.


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