2017 was a year to be reckoned with for Miami and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce was working for you through the good and tough times.
By far, the most significant event of the year was Hurricane Irma. While Miami-Dade was spared the brunt of the effects that battered the Keys and the southwest coast of Florida, the damages there were significant and the recovery proved disruptive to the entire state.
The Chamber was instrumental in communicating necessary pre-storm preparations and was operational immediately after the storm to get businesses back up and running. The Chamber did not lose power or wi-fi so we invited all members without either to work from our offices in the interim. Realizing that many members were without internet, a text program of members helping members was initiated.
In conjunction with Chairman Circle member MBAF, the Chamber fielded a post-storm business owner survey to gauge the business climate, how it had been affected by Irma and compared results to the survey that was fielded just weeks before the storm. https://tinyurl.com/irmareport Within weeks, the Chamber partnered with Wells Fargo, Bank of America, FIU and Carnival Cruises to mount a disaster relief and cleanup effort in Big Pine Key. The day of service helped dozens of families whose homes were badly damaged by the storm.
Then came Maria.
Knowing that the first days and weeks after a storm of this magnitude were critical, the Chamber mounted a supply drive at its monthly events resulting in thousands of pounds of vitally needed supplies delivered by the private sector to Ponce, Puerto Rico and were distributed by the local college students.
There is no question that Irma and Maria storms and the potential for even more large storms changed the way the Chamber will approach future natural disasters.
2017 was not only about hurricanes, there was a long list of brighter achievements and highlights:
Involvement of Miami’s Leadership:
- The first business audience appearance from new Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez at our October Trustee luncheon.
- An intimate gathering of Chairman’s Circle members with new Marlins President/CEO Derek Jeter at the East Hotel.
- Recognizing Pat Riley, Jim Morris, Dan LeBatard, Carlos Alvarez and Daryl Gwynn at the Chamber’s prestigious Sports Hall of Champions Awards.
- Informative presentations on the future of transportation with Miami-Dade Mayor, Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Esteban Bovo.
- The annual Alvah Chapman Award presented to Alberto Ibarguen, president of the Knight Foundation and former editor of The Miami Herald.
On the International front:
The Chamber welcomed delegations from Japan, Vietnam, China, Bermuda and Mexico. All these countries have multiple cities that have focused on the opportunity of doing business in Miami-Dade.
We also sent a delegation on a five-city trip to China and Hong Kong and fielded a trip to Spain to discuss the growth of those countries’ presence in Miami.
The Greater Miami Chamber is proud to announce a completely re-designed office space thanks to contributions by Workscapes who donated their design expertise and much of the new furniture. The office space is available to all members needing a downtown Miami space to work, meet or just hang out between appointments. After all, that’s what the definition of a Chamber is.
Last year the Chamber’s presence was evident in key discussions on critical issues that affect our community and our members.
Topics included: smart cities, transportation, medical marijuana, resiliency and immigration are just a few of the issues we have addressed with the public and private sectors to identify solutions. This year promises even greater things as we prepare to take our legislative priorities to Tallahassee lead by our Government Affairs Committee and our new Director of Governmental Affairs, Spencer Pylant.
Our Leadership Miami & HYPE programs are thriving:
As Miami’s largest community involvement program, Leadership Miami® Class 38 kicked off on October of 2016 as a nine-month program of the Greater Miami Chamber. The class was divided into teams of six and each group’s main objective was to work closely with a local nonprofit to gain a better understanding of what their needs were and how each team can contribute their time and efforts to assist. The Chamber’s HYPE committee orchestrated forums that dealt with computer coding, speed-networking and functions that connect Miami’s up-and-comers to Miami’s senior executives.
Last year’s Education Fund Teach-A-Thon included 26 senior level Chamber members who dedicated a day to teach elementary and high school students on a variety of subjects all over South Florida. I had the privilege of taking a group of fourth grade students to the Frost Science Museum where they spent the day mesmerized by the wonders of science. Another annual volunteer day drew more than 30 members to renovate, paint and plant at four different local nonprofits.
The Chamber’s collective efforts have moved the needle on many projects, but there is still much work to be done.
Our city’s transportation and affordable housing problems, which go hand in hand, are a priority for 2018 and beyond. Miami still faces homelessness, sea level rise and income inequality challenges—all issues that cannot be ignored. At the same time, the Chamber is working to grow our burgeoning entrepreneur and tech sectors.
We are proud to be known as South Florida’s largest chamber. Through the work, dedication and support of our committed members and staff, our Chamber has the power to make bold changes, and I know 2018 will be a year we will all be proud of.
Happy New Year from our staff, our Board and our active committees!
Alfred Sanchez, President
To join the Chamber contact [email protected]