Miami Beach Economic Development Director Resigns

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Economic Development Director Resigns:

Departure follows on the heels of Tourism Director resignation

Two of Miami Beach’s high-profile department directors have resigned within weeks of each other. The latest is Bo Martinez, Director of Economic Development. In his resignation letter,  Martinez indicated he and his family are returning to Colorado. His last day will be March 6. (Martinez is seen at left in the photo above with Kevin Crowder, the City’s Economic Development Director from 1996 through 2013.)

On February 11, the City’s Director of Tourism, Matt Kenny, abruptly quit.  He later provided a resignation letter dated February 14, effective immediately. He has not indicated his future plans.

Martinez served 12 months on the job, Kenny 13. Both were hired following a split of the former Tourism, Culture and Economic Development Department (TCED).

The Economic Development Department envisioned by City Manager Jimmy Morales in a memo to Commissioners last year, “would have a more robust and proactive role in true economic development, including working with the Business Improvement Districts, working on small business attraction and retention, and participating actively in the master planning for various economic corridors. We will be able to recruit a director with specific skills and experience in economic development who will not be distracted by the tourism side of the ledger.”

Martinez came to the City last March with over 20 years of experience in economic development. In a news release announcing his hire, the City said he was charged with “rolling out the red carpet for the business community and cutting out the red tape.”

Before taking the Economic Development role here, Martinez worked for the City and County of Broomfield, Colorado and City and County of Denver’s Office of Economic Development. He was recognized as one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers in 2019 by Consultant Connect. During his tenure in Miami Beach, he said in his resignation letter, the City launched vacant storefront and pop-up programs, streamlined the business licensing (BTR) and Certificate of Use (CU) processes, and developed a business start-up guide to help new businesses open in Miami Beach.

The Tourism and Culture Department is responsible for special events permitting, film and print permitting, the Art in Public Places program, cultural grants and coordination of tourism and Miami Beach Convention Center activities as well as the City’s relationships with the area’s tourism and culture organizations. 

Under Kenny’s leadership the City received wide acclaim for Order of Importance, a monumental temporary sand sculpture depiciting a traffic jam on the beach; the initiation of a public art purchase by emerging artists in partnership with Art Basel; the growth of the City’s popular Culture Crawl event which seeks to engage all of the City’s cultural institutions; and the just-announced No Vacancy program, a juried temporary art program in local hotels.

Kenny was also asked to come up with programming ideas for the City’s problematic Spring Break season, similar to how the City calmed Memorial Day Weekend with the Air and Sea Show. Last September Commissioners agreed to set aside $1.5 million for day and night programming and event production, but last month they scrapped the nighttime option amid concerns over lack of time to fully plan the programs and that events would just add to the number of people here for the month of March. 

While Kenny did not give a reason for his departure, Commissioner Ricky Arriola indicated he believed it was due to frustration over the Spring Break planning.

Kenny was paid $158,100 while Martinez made $171,670. The City has not indicated who will be acting in the roles until replacements are named.

Neither Kenny nor Martinez responded to requests for comment.


 

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