17
Mar

Miami is not Silicon Valley, and it shouldn’t be. We can help forge the city’s own innovation identity | Opinion

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article249981939.html#storylink=cpy

By Richard Lamondin and Seth Cassel

Miami has been the beneficiary of a well documented wave of entrepreneurial enthusiasm over the past few months. Journalists, politicians and high-profile individuals predict that our city is the next Silicon Valley.

The time has come for the city’s leaders to clearly and definitively lay out the goals for this moment. What does success look like if we fully realize this opportunity in a manner that benefits all of Miami?

In our view, success is a Miami comprising an unparalleled variety of technology and technology-enabled companies that develop and retain local talent. It is a Miami with public and private entities that commit long-term resources and attention to accelerate the improvements in education, transit and affordability that our innovation hub needs most. Success is a Miami that avoids the mistakes of other cities — because we built it our way.

Miami is not Silicon Valley and does not want to be. We are not a collection of overfunded, “disruptive” companies hellbent on unicorn status or bust. Miami is a city of immigrants. We know what it is like to have our backs against the wall, to be the underdog, but to still have the certainty that we will persevere in our endeavors. We are entrepreneurs, often by necessity. We are builders of companies despite the lack of capital available, not because of its abundance. We are passionate, self-reliant, and creative. And we are opportunistic. Miami should support an ecosystem that prioritizes our entrepreneurs doing the hard work and celebrates our collective grit.

We believe Miami can be a global innovation hub known not for its size, but rather for its impact and for the quality Miami has always embodied: diversity. Not only ethnic and cultural diversity, but also diversity of industry, diversity of thought, diversity of opportunity and diversity of approach. We envision an ever-expanding mesh of Miami-based companies supporting each other’s growth, maturation and success. This ecosystem attracts investors because our companies are ready to put capital to work, not the other way around. Tax policies and our quality of life should not be the main reason investors are flocking here.

In simpler terms, if we hit enough singles and doubles, we will inevitably hit home runs. In doing so, we will create sustainable middle-class jobs, reverse our growing income disparity, bring back homegrown talent and further motivate local governments to focus intently their attention on the education, affordable housing and public transit that workers need.

Miami’s entrepreneurs are among this city’s most outspoken ambassadors, and we appreciate those coming to our city in this exciting moment. However, we are a nascent ecosystem, and preconceived notions about what Miami should be may compromise our unique values, culture and strengths. Now, more than ever, we need a clear vision from our leaders that benefits all of Miami. It starts with our leaders spending more time in our own back yard, engaging the companies and founders that already are here and always will be.

Because no matter how this all plays out, Miami will always be our home.