Miami’s economic future depends on doing these three things well

Matt Haggman
Opportunity Miami
Published in
4 min readNov 15, 2021

Let’s shape our economic future, together.

This op-ed was originally published in The Miami Herald on Nov. 14, 2021.

In thinking about Miami’s economic future, it’s hard to imagine a moment when our community has been more strongly positioned for success. Companies and people have flocked here during the pandemic. Years-long efforts to build Miami’s art and cultural life, revitalize its urban core and spark its tech community are all bearing fruit.

Yet, amid this moment of exceeding promise, we are also confronted by daunting, stubborn challenges. Miami ranks among the most unequal metropolitan areas in the U.S. It is one of the most threatened cities globally by sea-level rise. And, despite great progress, it’s still in the early days of building a diversified economy with high wage jobs and talent to match.

It’s a pivotal moment. And it’s why we at Miami-Dade Beacon Council, along with partners across the county, are launching Opportunity Miami, a new community-wide initiative to help catalyze a long-term vision for Greater Miami’s economic future — and rally the community to create it.

Fundamental to the effort is the belief that our greatest challenges present our biggest opportunities. We believe Miami’s economic future hinges on doing three things well:

  • Continue driving entrepreneurship and innovation in order to create well-paying jobs and further diversifying the economy;
  • Dramatically increase economic inclusion and spur social mobility through talent development;
  • Turn the challenge of climate change into a generational business opportunity by being a leader in the global transition to a carbon-neutral economy.
Despite record growth in deal flow, Miami still attracts only a small slice of venture capital investments nationwide. Driving innovation and entrepreneurship is a focus of Opportunity Miami.

It’s a pivotal moment not because things can go so wrong, but because they can go so right. Consider what’s possible:

  • As technology allows for capital and talent to become more distributed, new centers of innovation and job creation are becoming established. Miami — already ascendent — has the opportunity to cement its role as a leader among these new emergent, entrepreneurial cities.
  • As a historic demographic shift plays out over the next 25 years in the US, Miami can be a global example of what a uniquely diverse and skilled workforce looks like by increasing economic inclusion and driving social mobility through talent development.
  • As the world transitions to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 — resulting in countless new industries, companies and jobs — Miami can be a leader in turning the challenge of climate change into an historic business opportunity that creates jobs and drives our economy for more than a generation.

This innovative, inclusive and sustainable future is one we can only build together. Opportunity Miami is a community-wide platform to help do that.

Opportunity Miami stands on the shoulders of One Community One Goal, the initiative founded in the 1990s by civic leader Jay Malina and re-launched in 2012 by The Beacon Council, that focused on identifying the key economic issues and proposing steps to address them.

That mission remains just as important today. But today’s world of rapid change requires compasses, not maps. Organizations have often created lengthy blueprints to do this sort of work. The risk today, however, is that static reports will become obsolete within months. To stay ahead of new challenges and opportunities, a new model for how we envision and build our economic future is needed.

A look at recent graduates shows the tech workforce is growing more diverse, but women, especially, remain underrepresented. Increasing economic inclusion through talent development is a focus of Opportunity Miami.

This means creating a platform that is iterative, can move quickly and meet people where they are. With that in mind, Opportunity Miami will engage in five ways: weekly email newsletter, daily social media, biweekly podcast, monthly live events (starting in 2022) and a website — opportunity.miami — that organizes the various content into threads framed around specific questions pivotal to our future.

We aim to raise a new question each month and tackle it publicly, through digital media and events, learning with the community as we go. How can we ensure every family in Miami-Dade has access to high-speed internet? How can technology innovation boost small businesses? How do we achieve carbon-free mobility and drive economic growth?

The race to lower carbon emissions will create new industries, businesses, and well-paid green jobs. Miami could be a place where the businesses of the future are built, and it’s one of three focus areas for Opportunity Miami.

The approach is to elevate the best ideas, practices, research and people addressing questions pivotal to our economic future, engage across Miami-Dade County, and share clear, actionable solutions to help our community make better decisions, faster.

It’s an effort that takes the long view. Moving beyond election cycles and news cycles to imagine the Miami we want in 2040 — when the young child in Miami today will be readying to enter the workforce.

Opportunity Miami is built on the knowledge that this will require all of us to create the economic future we want — ranging from corporates, nonprofits and educational institutions to startups, governments, activists and everyday residents.

Let’s shape our economic future, together.

Matt Haggman is executive vice president at Miami-Dade Beacon Council, where he leads Opportunity Miami. He was previously Miami Program Director at Knight Foundation and was an award-winning reporter at The Miami Herald. Opportunity Miami can be found online at opportunity.miami and on social media channels @opportunitymia.

Photo (top) by Joe deSousa on Unsplash

--

--

Matt Haggman
Opportunity Miami

EVP, Opportunity Miami, The Beacon Council. Previously: Miami Program Director at Knight Foundation and award-winning journalist at The Miami Herald.