Famed for its beaches, cruises and cafecitos, South Florida is now angling to become one of the next U.S. tech hot spots by leveraging its role as the gateway to Latin America and luring northern entrepreneurs with cheap living costs and lots of sun.
The region in and around Miami has long pinned its financial fortunes on real estate and banking, but a combination of factors — the recent recession that shook those economic drivers coupled with an increase in cloud computing, the rapid growth of mobile devices in Latin America, and the area's vast health care industry — now have civic leaders and local entrepreneurs making a push to diversify into the tech industry.
This past May, Miami hosted its first large-scale technology conference, eMerge Americas Techweek, which had over 6,000 attendants, 220 companies, 150 speakers, and a special appearance by Pitbull. Manny Medina, the brains behind eMerge Americas, is a Miami-based entrepreneur-turned investor who sold his company Terremark to Verizon Communications in 2011 for $1.4B.
Several startup incubators have opened shop in Miami, including Microsoft, which recently announced they'll be opening their first U.S.-based technology innovation center at the new downtown entrepreneurial training center and startup Venture Hive.
In addition to Miami's proximity to Latin America, the international and diverse population, significant concentration of wealth, the several large universities, and quality of life are catching the attention of investors, entrepreneurs, and organizations alike.