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Miami Beach mayor responds to tech hub comments

LevineMiami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said his comments published in a Washington Post blog  earlier today were taken out of context but that “I stand by what I said.” He also said high tech can and is rising across the bridge.

While speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, he called a tech hub in Miami Beach a dumb idea. “Miami Beach is never going to be a high tech hub. As much as it sounds great, it's sexy, that's not who we are,” the WonkBlog quoted Levine as saying under  the headline “Miami Beach mayor: Take your tech start-up gospel, and shove it.”

Reaction from the tech community was vocal and varied. In social media, some called Levine's comments “outrageous” and “embarrassing” and said  sentiments like that are a setback to  South Florida’s efforts to build and promote its tech community throughout the region. Some thought the mayor was excluding just the type of high-wage job creation he should be welcoming. Others thought he was right that Miami Beach may not be the place for a tech hub, but that doesn’t mean Miami isn’t.

In a phone interview this evening from Washington, Levine said because he is an entrepreneur mayor he was asked to talk about how he would advise other mayors to help push business in their cities. “I said, No. 1, the best thing governments can do is get out of the way, No. 2, make it easy for businesses to operate … and  the third thing I said is be who you are, don’t be something you are not as far as your city.”

What Miami Beach is, according to Levine: "A tiny piece of land" with core competencies in travel and tourism and conventions, and it certainly welcomes high-tech conventions. What it isn't: a fertile ground for a technology hub because it doesn't have inexpensive office space or a critical mass of programmers. "That’s not who we are. If there's anyone who knows this, it is going to be guys who started from nothing and built large companies. And that was me, and I did it on Miami Beach and I did as an offshoot of the travel and tourism industry, which of course was Onboard Media,” Levine said.

“I love entrepreneurial startups, I invest in them, I love high tech, but when you are talking to mayors and describe your own city, you have to say this is what our core competency is. …. To me, a  high tech hub is Wynwood, where you have inexpensive warehouse and office space and you are much more set up for high-tech startups.”

What do you think?

Posted Jan. 22, 2014

Comments

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D-Rod

Although I believe he is completely correct, when much of the US and the World for that matter, relate Miami Beach to Miami itself, not realizing the real differences between the two cities, it can inadvertently paint both with the same brush & be incorrectly interpreted while disseminated throughout the vast high-tech community.

A more thoughtful reply I think would have been wiser.

WestBocaNews

"when you are talking to mayors and describe your own city, you have to say this is what our core competency is"

No, you do not. It is not a mayor's job to define or determine such things. It's your job to manage the city and represent the people.

ivan

So, basically if you and your cronnies don't get paid, we don't want you here. As a matter of fact, the less intelligent you keep the job pool in the city the better. That way you can't see them plunder the coffers.

Roberto Jose B

Funny, but this doesn't surprise me - you get what you vote for and clearly the constituency of Miami Beach was once again easily snookered by the hoopla, balloons and gimmicks of another thief who is only out to line his own pockets. Though clearly always a longshot - had the citizeny wisely voted for the thought-provoking idea man who was Steve Berke we'd have a different message to give to the world and Miami Beach would be looking at a different future. Now we have our convention center plans sh*t-canned so Levine can fine tune it and get the most out of it for himself - wake up asinine Floridians!!

Vicequeenmaria

I think the Washington Post author completely misrepresented Miami/Miami Beach by focusing on this one mayor and not fully researching her article.

Grantstern

Miami Beach is lucky to hold Mayoral elections every 2 years rather than 4 like most cities. Their new mayor has already scuttled a $1 Billion dollar completely vetted and approved project that would've enhanced tourism locally, and now he says that tech isn't the answer either.

So Mayor Levine, if a new convention center isn't the answer, and tech isn't the answer, what is going to improve the economy of Miami Beach for anyone that's not a multi-millionaire already?

Ed Koch's famous dictum comes to mind: "The Voters have spoken, now they shall be punished"

Michael W. Sasser

Mayor Levine is entirely correct and not beholden to pie-in-the-sky nonsense. With property values what they are in Miami Beach, tech companies would be better served looking elsewhere, even though I am sure the Mayor and all of us would welcome the investment. It just is not realistic; and as a successful businessman, Mayor Levine knows this. Nice to have someone speak honestly.

Roberto Jose B

Miami Beach isn't poised to take on tech jobs and become a hub why again Mr. Sasser, because your SunPost paper did not do so well? hmmmm

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