Chances are when you think of Miami you think of Don Johnson, neon lights, and sipping drinks by the pool.
What you might not imagine is a tech hub set on luring workers from Silicon Valley to the sunny beaches of south Florida. But that’s exactly what Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas, a firm dedicated to turning Miami into a new tech hub, has in mind for the city.
“Miami is going through a renaissance at all levels, but especially in terms of technology,” Gorordo told Yahoo Finance.
“We’re No. 1 in tech job growth in the nation, we’re No. 1 in tech job migration, and we’re No. 1 in the Southeast U.S. in terms of venture capital dollars invested,” Gorordo, a serial entrepreneur and adviser for companies including Clearpath and StartUp Health, added.
Miami, like Austin and Salt Lake City, burst onto the scene as a new potential tech hub amid the pandemic, as Silicon Valley workers began moving to the region due to its lax COVID restrictions and lower taxes. And with more companies shifting to work-from-anywhere models, Miami is positioning itself as a place for workers to get their jobs done while enjoying the sun.
The city has since drawn attention from heavy hitters including SoftBank, which has allocated $250 million to businesses operating there. According to eMerge, Miami-based firms raked in $5.33 billion in investments in 2021, far more than the $2.27 billion the city brought in in 2020.
“There is no question that over the last 18 months, COVID accelerated [Miami’s’] growth,” Gorordo said. “But this has been two decades in the making. Taking the blood, sweat, and tears of many in this ecosystem that put their money where their mouth is and invested their time, talent, and treasure in realizing this very moment.”
So far, Miami has seemingly become most popular among the fintech and crypto crowds. The city hosted the Bitcoin 2022 conference earlier this month, complete with a tech-centric charging bull aping the design of the famous Wall Street sculpture signifying the city’s rising status.
Of course, turning a city like Miami into a tech hub requires the right kind of infrastructure, and the city may not be prepared for an influx of new residents keen on working in the industry while being able to sunbathe. Other cities, including Las Vegas, have tried to emulate Silicon Valley’s success with little to show for it. The late Tony Hsieh, who served as CEO of Zappos, famously tried to transform the region into a tech hub, though the effort sputtered and he eventually moved on to other interests.
Gorordo, however, says that eMerge Americas is hosting mayors from 50 U.S. cities to discuss the lessons they’ve learned in trying to bring in tech workers to help Miami make the move, and ensure that workers that move to the area stay put.
“I think what is both a challenge and opportunity is to ensure that they are making it their own, and they’re not just relocating here temporarily, but truly investing themselves in our ecosystem, and that’s what eMerge America is all about.”
It’s still too early to declare Miami as a true threat to the likes of Silicon Valley or even Austin, which has seen its own increase in tech investments over the years. But if the city can continue to pull in workers and companies along with them, it could become a new destination for the industry’s best and brightest.
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