Three Cheers for the Entrepreneurs

Coral Gables is Home to Inspirational Successes

The life of an entrepreneur is filled with ebbs and flows, ups and downs, confidence and fears, and eternal positives and negatives. I know this life well. My father was an entrepreneur and restaurateur most of his working life, in an industry with notoriously more ebbs than flows and often more tears than cries of joy. Such is the challenge of striking out on your own, turning your more secure livelihood toward uncertainty while eschewing the comforts of the known.

Coral Gables has enjoyed a rich history of entrepreneurialism, buoyed by many of the family businesses and “mom and pop” stores that have long called our community home. Yet, when you think of local cities that are synonymous with entrepreneurism, Coral Gables is not often top-of-mind, and well, that is on us. We need to be better storytellers and evangelists about the innovators that dot the landscape of the city, showcasing the companies that have grown and thrived here, some on a global scale.

Think of Mike Fernandez or the Mas family – iconic entrepreneurs who fearlessly invested their own precious venture capital in ideas, products and the future of their industries. They would likely tell you that each decision to invest was filled with pros and cons, with both risk and reward at the very heart of those decisions.

Think also of Anna Mae Esslinger, Dodie Wooten and Arline Maxwell, the three women who founded what is today the regional real estate juggernaut Berkshire Hathaway Home Services EWM Realty. Who would have imagined three women entrepreneurs and realtors coming together in 1964 in the Gables to found what is today a company affiliated with billionaire Warren Buffett?

Finally, think about Manny Medina, the Gables-based serial entrepreneur who brought us eMerge Americas – co-founded and co-created with his daughter and fellow entrepreneur Melissa – and his newer companies like Cyxtera, cutting edge providers of cyber security.

All of these good men and women of Coral Gables started with a dream, an idea, and a specialized skill set they put into practice (sounds a bit like our old friend George Merrick, eh?).  

These risk takers help make our local economy hum, and ensure our brand goes even more global. And, with our local government embracing a Smart City approach to its own bureaucracy, innovation is alive and well, poised for a strong decade ahead. 

We are big thinkers and our infrastructure for success is growing. Even our local University of Miami is home to an entrepreneurial think-tank for startups, The Launch Pad, that has already added new businesses to the local, regional and global landscape.

We count heavily on this next wave of idea generation and investment to help us face the new normal of business, and we crave the fighting spirit of the entrepreneur as part of our short-term – and long-term – recovery.

Here’s to those who have taken a risk, savored the rewards and succeeded in changing our world along the way. And three cheers to those who have done that right here in our beloved City Beautiful.

Three Cheers for the Entrepreneurs - Mark A. Trowbridge
Mark A. Trowbridge is the president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce