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REGIONS AMERICAS


Miamisetseyeson sustainablility&tech


THE MAYOR SPEAKS: FRANCIS SUAREZ


THE MAYOR OF MIAMI, FRANCIS SUAREZ TELLS WENDY ATKINS HOWINNOVATION, SUSTAINABILITY AND UNITY ARE KEY TO THE CITY’S SUCCESS


the Covid-19 pandemic. The US city is now focused on supporting its people, unifying its community, building back sustainably and driving innovation while waiting for the tour- ism industry to resume once the pandemic is under control. “We’re a city that loves to socialise.Welike to


I


FRANCIS SUAREZ CURRICULUMVITAE


2017 City of Miami Mayor


Previously Member of the Miami City Commission from the 4th district


MIAMI CITYPROFILE


Population 485,000


Main sectors Tourism and hospitality, banking and finance, trade and logistics, transportation, construction and development


party and have a good time and the pandemic has impacted our economy tremendously,” Miami’smayor Francis Suarez tells fDi. “But the city has shownitself to be very resil-


ient throughout these adverse times. People have banded together. There have been no civil disturbances. We haven’t seen spikes in crime. We’re doing everythingwecan to get federal aid down to our citizens in a way that can keep them as calm and safe as possible during this difficult time.” He says that the city has been using federal


money to support small businesses with rent subsidies, microloans and grants. Mr Suarez adds that Miami is experiencing high levels of interest from businesses in states that have higher taxes and have been bit harder by the pandemic. “We’re getting a tremendous num- ber of people from Silicon Valley and New York who want to invest,” he says.


Innovation Mr Suarez is excited about opportunities for innovation and technology, which, he says, are part of the city’s brand. “There is no city that shouldn’t be fighting to get a larger piece of the [national] tech ecosystem. And there isn’t any


t has been a tough time for businesses in Miami’s hotel, travel and events sectors, which city leaders say have been crushed by


industry that it doesn’t impact, from fintech — which is something that we’re trying to differen- tiate ourselves within the city of Miami—to com- munications technology.” Technology is also transforming the all-


important travel sector, and this could have a serious effect on fortunes. As Mr Suarez points out: “Zoom is so ubiquitous. I really think that business travel is going to be reduced signifi- cantly.” But he believes there will be growth in other


forms of tourism once people feel comfortable with travelling. “That will happen either when there’s a vaccine or cases diminish to a level where people feel safe again,” he says.


Sustainability The big issue for people in the city is sustainabil- ity, having recently seen two hurricanes devas- tate centralAmerica. “ForMiamito be successful and resilient, it has to be water resilient. And it has to protect itswater assets,” saysMrSuarez. He reveals that the city is taking measures


to protect its bay and improve water quality because they arehuge economic engines for the city. “We’re also strengthening our infrastruc- ture against hurricanes so we can cope with any storms that Mother Nature throws our way,” he says. “Sustainability is becoming less of a partisan


issue and more of an economic issue,” he adds. “People are starting to realise that good ecology is good economy. So it’s less Republican or Democrat and more about infrastructure invest- ment, making sure that the economy that you have today — the eco-economy, particularly eco- tourism—is strong and robust into the future.”


SUSTAINABILITY IS BECOMING LESS OF A PARTISAN ISSUE AND MORE OF AN ECONOMIC ISSUE; PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO REALISE THAT GOOD ECOLOGY IS GOOD ECONOMY


62


Unifying SpeakingaftertheUSelection,MrSuarez reflects on the importance of being a unifier. “I was elected on a non-partisan basis by 86% ofmyresi- dents in the city of Miami. That doesn’thappenif you’re excessively divisive or excessively partisan. “I’ve always tried to reach across the aisle,


create commonality between different parties and factions. That’s what people want. They want people who are creating peace and creat- ing unity, and not trying to figure out how to attribute it to one party or another.”■


www.fDiIntelligence.com December 2020/January 2021


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