International Business is the Bedrock of Coral Gables

By Roberto Muñoz

February 2020

Take a moment and imagine Coral Gables without its international business sector. There would be no multinational companies leasing office space and creating high-paying jobs. Then subtract the dozens of international chambers of commerce, foreign consulates and trade offices.

Bankers, lawyers, accountants and architects would be limited to local practices, rather than serving high profile clients throughout the U.S. and abroad. Only a handful of residents would speak Spanish, Portuguese or French, and foreign language studies would be low on the priority list for young students and their parents.

In real estate, there would be little demand for Class A office and retail space aside from Miracle Mile, whose shops would cater to local rather than global shoppers. Foreign investors would look for better opportunities in other markets, reducing the flow of dollars in circulation here.

Fewer jobs and lower average incomes would make it much more difficult for Coral Gables residents to afford beautiful estate homes, townhomes or condominiums, even in prime downtown and waterfront locations. The city would have a lower tax base, and residents would pay more for municipal services.

Small businesses would lose their benefits from unmatched global connections, including financial support for export and import programs from area banks, and the ability to market to customers locally and internationally who share their language, culture and heritage.

Residents would have to search elsewhere to find world-class restaurants, first-class hotels, and rich cultural offerings. Aside from the undeniable benefit of less traffic, it’s hard to think of any reason to prefer a non-internationally oriented Coral Gables – now or in the future.

That is why protecting international trade and commerce needs to be front and center for Coral Gables, as well as the entire Miami-Dade community. Today, much of the world is talking about trade wars, tariffs, restrictions on travel and immigration. But what is lost in those conversations is the power of two-way trade and travel in building prosperous economies and forging friendships that cross national boundaries.

As chair of the World Trade Center Miami, I understand the incredible power of global commerce to open the door to new business opportunities. By promoting Miami as the “Trade and Logistics Capital of the Americas,” our nonprofit organization has supported more than $3.8 billion in international sales and helped create tens of thousands of jobs.

Hundreds of other organizations, including the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, the Beacon Council, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, CAMACOL, the Greater Miami Visitor and Convention Bureau and Enterprise Florida – to name just a few – are also committed to advancing international business.

Back in 1925, Coral Gables founder George Merrick dreamed of developing a city on the southern tip of the Florida peninsula that would “serve as a gateway to Latin America.” Today, the city’s residents benefit every day from the power of Merrick’s vision. Now, it is up to us to keep his dream alive and ensure that Coral Gables enjoys a prosperous and sustainable international future. 

Roberto R. Muñoz is President of the Miami Market for First Horizon Bank, chair of the World Trade Center Miami and an executive board member of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.