Yet Mayor Suarez believes that recruiting the right people can change that. “We are a city that for many decades has produced talent that we have lost to the big cities,” he says. “It’s something we want to get back.” Miami has attracted a few small startups, like sleep technology company Eight Sleep. Matteo Franceschetti, the founder of Eight Sleep, moved to Miami for a better quality of life, but found the city to be good for networking as well. “I’ve met more people here in the past month than in New York City last year,” he says. Franceschetti wants others to join him: in January, eight sleep ad a new 20% mattress promotion to tech founders, investors and employees moving to Miami.
“I think it’s extremely exciting that new entrepreneurs, investors and companies are coming here,” says Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, director of performance management at REEF Technology, which has become Miami. first technological unicorn in 2018 (when he was called Jockey Park). Martinez-Kalinina says the new entrants will make the existing industry a lot richer, but “you have to be aware that most things are not 100% built.” Miami isn’t a city with a massive tech industry ready to connect – it needs a thoughtful group of people to come prepared with ideas on what this industry and the city itself should look like.
Those excited about Miami’s future as a tech hub believe it can avoid the growing pains of Silicon Valley, where the rise of tech companies has accompanied rising inequalities and a housing crisis, among other questions. Miami already has the second worst economic inequality in the nation by certain measures – worse, in fact, than any city in California. One-third of Miami-Dade County households earn less than $ 35,000 a year, according to Annie Lord, executive director of the nonprofit Miami Homes for All. “The problem will not be that a few hundred people with very high net worth settles in Miami,” Lord says. “It’s when you talk about creating new industries that are radically changing the way people move to Miami, it’s really going to have a huge effect.” If entrepreneurs and tech startups move to Miami, it could create new opportunities for the people who live there, ranging from jobs in the service industry to well-paying office work. But it could also exacerbate existing inequalities. A writer for The Miami Herald recently warned locals who “an influx of backpacks of venture capitalists” would do in Miami what they have done in every other city: “increase housing costs astronomically, increase douchebag factor in area and make life generally miserable for everyone. ”
Mayor Suarez, for his part, believes that the merging of income inequality and the tech industry is an oversimplification. “There is a presupposition that income inequality was brought about by technology,” he says. “It is not created by an industry or a company.” Instead, he highlights the housing crisis in cities like San Francisco, which has exacerbated homelessness and poverty. The Miami metropolitan area is also facing a shortage of affordable housing, but Suarez argues that Miami-Dade County has “a tremendous amount of underutilized land” – which San Francisco does not have – and the ability to grow with a new industry.
However, some developments have made planners more nervous about gentrification. Last year, the city approved a billion-dollar development called the Magic City Innovation District, a commercial and residential district for startups and entrepreneurs. The neighborhood is located in part of the city known as Little Haiti, where many people live below the poverty line, and activists argued this new construction threatens to drive these people out.