The dawn of a new year brings with it new promises and old challenges.
South Florida's two ports expect trade and tourism to pick up the pace in 2014. PortMiami Director Bill Johnson and Port Everglades Director Steven Cernak are both managing expansion plans at their sea ports designed to handle more international cargo, including a new experiment bringing Peruvian grapes directly into South Florida. The effort to import fresh agricultural goods straight into the region holds the promise of a new category of goods for the local international trade industry. In the meantime, both ports remain important to the cruise ship industry and each have plans to expand their cruise facilities in anticipation of more tourists.
The 2013 real estate story in South Florida was one of robust recovery thanks to international buyers. Stephen Owens, CEO of Swire Properties, the company behind the $1.05 billion Brickell City Centre sees that trend continuing. He rejects the idea South Florida real estate, even condominium building, is nearing another bubble. Instead, Owens thinks the international buyers will continue to see South Florida as a relative bargain. And more importantly, in his opinion, demand for condos outstrips supplies. Still, one worrying trend for Owens is the escalating cost of building materials such as concrete.
We also talk with AutoNation CEO Michael Jackson and Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza about South Florida consumers. And we check the job market for the year ahead from the perspective of two people the Sunshine Economy spoke with in September when they were hunting for work. One has found employment while the other remains frustrated by the lack of job offers.
The Sunshine Economy: Staring into the Sun - The Year Ahead for South Florida.