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High-profile business leaders discuss South Florida’s economic future at boat show

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Although they were surrounded by billions of dollars’ worth of boats at an event that funnels nearly $1 billion annually into South Florida’s economy, local business leaders weren’t complacent about the region’s economic future.

Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways; Daniel Cane, CEO of Modernizing Medicine; Salomon Sredni, former CEO of TradeStation; and Howard Greenberg, principal of HGreenberg Advisors LLC, said there are still issues businesses and local governments must address so the tri-county area can continue its impressive growth.

They were speakers at the third annual International Marine Hub Luncheon, which took place at Bahia Mar during the 57th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The South Florida Business Journal sponsored the event, which drew 150 business and civic leaders.

Phil Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, offered opening remarks about the region’s $11.5 billion marine industry. Stacy Ritter, CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; Bob Swindell, CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance; and Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca also touted South Florida’s economic strengths.

The discussion centered on the difficulty procuring talent in sectors such as technology, but the speakers said the problem isn’t the talent. Cane said businesses should reach out to universities, which are producing educated people who can go into local, high-paying positions. But schools sometimes have trouble connecting with local companies – and vice versa, he said.

“We grow a lot of great tech talent here,” Cane said. “What’s missing here is connecting the talent coming from the universities with the companies here.”

Part of the issue is that organizations in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties – although in close proximity – don’t work closely together.

“It feels sometimes like we need a passport to get past county lines,” Sredni said. “We need to work together more and toot our own horn more.”

There’s plenty to brag about. For instance, each day of the boat show generates $100 million in sales, Purcell said. The total economic impact of last year’s show was $857 million.

FLIBS runs Nov. 3-7. Click here for more about the show.

By: Emon Reiser on in News