It all started in December 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, when a Twitter user posted an innocent message asking his followers whether it was time to move Silicon Valley to Miami. The curious thing was that the city Mayor, Francis Suarez, replied to that message with a phrase that went viral: "How can I help". From that moment on, he received a lot of messages from entrepreneurs and those interested in moving the businesses they had in the cities with a strict confinement (such as New York or California) to Florida. Suarez took advantage. But overwhelmed by the situation, he improvised a kind of local agency to help answer all the messages from those interested in arriving in the city. This is how the economic branch of the Mayor to seduce new businesses in the city (Venture Miami) was born.
In an exclusive dialogue with LPO, Kelly Montoya, Head of Partnerships at Venture Miami, explained what is behind the economic and entrepreneurial boom the city is experiencing. The idea of becoming the new Silicon Valley and how it became a technological hub in the country. "Our goal is to make Miami the capital of the capital," Montoya says, echoing one of the Mayor's mantras.
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Three things. Number one, we provide a concierge service for all founders and companies that want to relocate to Miami. We offer resources and information you need to make your move and transition easier. Second, we have so many people and activity in the city and there are many jobs that we make sure Miami residents get those jobs that are going to be created by the arrival of new businesses. What we do is bring local talent closer to these new projects and thus they benefit from this. In addition, there is a lot of feedback from the companies, and if we see a gap that needs to be closed, we create educational programs so that residents can obtain those jobs.
So the idea is that the people in the city benefit from this entrepreneurial expansion that you are trying to capture.
It is a movement for them and for us to benefit. We support the founders a lot. Our goal is to make Miami the capital of the capital, because we want everyone to build and innovate in Miami and access financing in the city. To support the founders we have created many acceleration programs.
Why has there been a very strong growth of businesses and entrepreneurs in the last 3 years in the city? Even well above other destinations such as New York or California.
When other cities make it difficult for entrepreneurs to grow and have businesses, we are paving the way to connect and give them what they need. And we use all the resources we can so that everyone benefits. And entrepreneurs often do not know how to do it or how to start, that is why they contact us and we help them to connect with the partners we know. We create a pipeline for entrepreneurs to take the next step. If they have an idea, Miami has many resources to help them get started.
Did the pandemic generate a demand you did not have before?
During the confinement we observed how a lot of cities lost their businesses. And Miami was the natural choice to continue operations. That is why big players like Blackstone or Citadel came and that meant more growth. And not only that: now everybody is giving back to the city. Citadel, for example, donated $20 million to Miami Dade College. People who move here want to protect the city and the community.
Is it really a goal to become the new Silicon Valley?
We are unique. I think that more than aspiring to be the next Silicon Valley, we are a Miami way tech hub: we try to make this movement beneficial for everyone.
In addition to attracting the technological world, what other sectors and industries are you looking to get in the city?
I think Miami is very agnostic in that sense. We celebrate all the innovators, but the one that is growing the most is the help tech sector, we have the second largest district in the country. We are also focused on fin tech, which is the future of finance.
The media talk about the "Miracle of Miami" because of its growth and the fact that it attracts more businesses and becomes an increasingly important city in the country. Do you consider yourself fashionable?
Without any doubt, Miami is in the spotlight now. We had a 278% growth in the Venture Capital business between 2020 and 2022, we are the number one in access to capital, we have the lowest unemployment in the country... That speaks of the "Miracle of Miami." While other places are slowing down and falling, we continue to grow to attract more innovators and entrepreneurs who know that here is place where they are looking to grow. Furthermore, Miami is an easy choice: climate, people and above all low taxes. When looking to do business, taxes are one of the most important things.
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