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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-Even though Miami-Dade County continues to be hit hard by rising unemployment and the real estate crisis, speakers at last night’s Beacon Council 2008 Annual Meeting remained hopeful and spirited. The economic development partnership assured 400 gathered members of the business community that continued collaboration between the county’s business organizations, along with a renewed Miami marketing initiative, will guide the region through this surging storm.

“Miami is now seeing international investment at a level it has never been before,” keynote speaker Bruce Mosler, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, told attendees at the Biltmore in Coral Gables. “South Florida’s connections to Latin America make it one of the most vibrant markets in the world,” he said. “As real estate corrects, as buyer and seller come to meet and cap rates adjust, we will see huge opportunity.”

Over the past year the Beacon Council, under the leadership of Pete Pizarro, embarked on more then 20 trips abroad to draw international businesses to the region. The organization also assisted in the completion of 33 new projects within the county that are expected to bring $275 million in new capital investments and 1.1 million sf of space. As Pizarro passed the gavel to this year’s chair, Cushman & Wakefield senior managing director Tere Blanca, there was a promise to draw even more companies to Miami.

“Nothing is more important than creating and retaining jobs in our community,” said Blanca. “When we retain jobs and expand companies in Miami, Miami wins.” In order to do this, the organization says it will launch a strategic plan to identify where improvements are necessary to remain competitive among global uncertainties.

Blanca also announced the Council’s newly formed partnership with Broward and Palm Beach counties to promote South Florida as a region to national and international corporations. A $2-million marketing campaign called Miami: Where Worlds Meet, geared toward tourists and relocating businesses, will also roll out this year. The Local Business, Local Jobs initiative, designed to assist local companies to expand in Miami through education and economic incentives, will also be implemented.

“Fortunes will be made as investors have the courage to reinvest,” Mosler said of the real estate market. “Those people that are willing to move in the next three to six months will take advantage of a down market and structure deals that will be beneficial to their firms.”

Blanca delivered a similar message when she urged the gathered business community to remain confident. “Miami will continue to grow as a distribution hub for the south,” she said. “Life science entities will continue to make a major commitment to Miami. Aviation, technology and telecommunications companies will continue to choose Miami to conduct their business.”

Guest speaker Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, president of the Dominican Republic, later proposed a strategic alliance between his country and Florida. Around 60,000 Dominicans live in South Florida, he said, with 200,000 to 250,000 throughout the state. He welcomed partnerships with local businesses in expanding the Dominican Republic’s high-tech industries.

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