Miami Ranks Among Most Globalized Cities In The Country

Aug 8, 2018

A new study from the Miami Urban Future Initiative focuses on providing evidence-based data on Miami’s evolution as a global city. Deep and international ties to Latin America is the biggest factor that make the city a "global" area, it says. 

The study, "Benchmarking Miami’s Globalization,"gathered research on the number of immigrants with a college degree, foreign-born residents working in the “creative class” and the export-import ratio from airports to illustrate just how internationalized the city is.

According to the data, the Miami Metro Area competes with New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as a top "globalized city." Miami’s economy has historically been based on tourism but the study dived deep into the areas of hospitality, transportation, and real-estate development.

Key findings from the report:

  • Miami has a highly educated immigrant population
  • Miami ranks very high in exports
  • Miami has a globalized airport
  • Miami ranks high among international businesses 

"I would argue that outside of universities they [airports] tend to be one of the most important assets that a community can have and invest in," says New York University professor Steven Pedigo, co-author of the study.

He joined Sundial to break down the report, dive into the loaded term “globalization” in the context of Miami and explain how we are competing with the international metropolises of New York and Los Angeles.

WLRN:  Let's talk about how you measure global connections.

Pedigo: The things that we look at are the people that live in Miami. If you look at Miami's community makeup, what you find is that it has a large number of immigrants that are living there -- foreign-born residents. In fact, it ranks first among all of the 52 largest metropolitan areas in the country. More importantly than that, we looked at international residents who have advanced degrees and bachelor's degrees. We call them the "creative class." What was very interesting is that Miami actually ranked second, only behind San Jose, California. It's interesting that when you look at Miami's population it's very international but internationally educated as well.

The other thing that we looked at was this idea of exports and imports. With the whole debate around tariffs and things now we are hearing more about this conversation about how many goods and services are exported out of a region. When we looked at exports, Miami is among the top 10 in terms of export. So this question of connections between the types of business that is happening in the community is absolutely globally connected.

The third thing that we looked at, which was absolutely a strength for Miami, is this idea of a global airport. Airports play an amazing important role. In fact, I would argue that outside of universities they tend to be one of the most important assets that a community can have and invest in. 

The final thing that we looked at is international businesses. Miami ranks among the top 10 for foreign-owned businesses. Those are the types of businesses that are owned by immigrants throughout the country.

Why are they coming to Miami? Is there something specific about this region? What's special about this place?

I think there are lots of things for Miami. Obviously, the geographical location plays an important role, particularly as you look at Latin America and the Caribbean. But I think the other thing for international communities is that folks are attracted to the quality of place. You know there's obviously great restaurants, there's a great lifestyle that we have in Miami ... a lot of educated creative class workers today. Miami also has some very interesting emerging industries that are attracting both international investments as well as people. The development as an International Media Center, looking at healthcare and bio-sciences and looking at the role of your large start-up community that's doing a lot around consumer goods. A lot of those industries are attempting to attract both foreign investment as well as foreign work.

We're painting this really pretty picture of Miami in the South Florida region. Let me flip it a little bit here. So we depend a lot on real estate and as you said the finance sector. How might those be a negative factor?

There is a heavy presence of real-estate, even hospitality development. The question is how do we grow other sectors in the economy that can play a larger role? So for instance, when there is a downturn in the economy we don't feel the crashes heavy in the community. That goes to really gearing up support for bio-sciences, Health Sciences where we know there's this real specialization and expertise in the region that's growing. There are other sectors that will need support. There are issues that we have to address with some of the livability. What we know though is that we do face challenges of affordability, transportation and all of those challenges that a lot of growing metropolitan areas face and we're going to have to address those issues head-on. When a region gets between five and six million people it becomes congested, it starts feeling that start in traffic without having that connectivity. 

You can read the whole report here and below: