Miami Beach’s Job Creation Incentive Program Attracts Two Tech Firms

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach’s Job Creation Incentive Program Attracts Two Tech Firms:

One expanding, one relocating

Miami Beach’s new Job Creation Incentive Program targeted at attracting tech and financial services firms to diversify the City’s economy away from its dependence on tourism has netted its first technology companies. Following announcements of three financial services firms locating here, City Economic Development Director Rickelle Williams told the City Commission’s Finance Committee that Wix.com, a web development firm in Miami Beach since 2018, plans to dramatically increase its presence here while CourMed, a med-tech firm, plans to relocate from Texas.

In a memo to the Finance Committee, City Manager Alina Hudak, said Wix, located at 1691 Michigan Avenue just off Lincoln Road, plans to expand its footprint by 45% “going from 33,458 sq ft to 48,527 sq ft” with an investment of “$3.8 million on capital improvements including construction, furniture, fixtures and equipment.”

“The company also plans to significantly increase their existing 302 employee workforce to hire or relocate 150 new employees to the City of Miami Beach over the next three years, 50 of which will be hired within the next twelve months,” Hudak noted. Wages are estimated to average more than $69,800.
 
Wix is headquartered in Tel Aviv with a national headquarters in San Francisco. The publicly traded company has operations in eight countries and ten cities around the U.S.

CourMed was founded in 2018 by Derrick Miles in McKinny, Texas. Hudak’s memo described the company as “a rapidly growing startup healthcare delivery service with a concierge-style business model that leverages technology to make medication delivery and healthcare services as easy as using an application (app) and GPS to receive care from anywhere – whether at a hotel on vacation, at home or at work.”
 
“The company is garnering national attention, particularly as an African-American owned technology business and was selected as the first company to access Microsoft's $50M capital fund to support small businesses through the Black and African American Partner Growth Initiative,” Hudak wrote.  “Miles is also a participant in the inaugural class of the Knight Foundation Fellowship for Healthcare Technology Innovation presented by Baptist Health South Florida, which was launched in an effort to expand South Florida tech talent and accelerate innovation.”
 
While still evaluating sites in Miami Beach, the company has indicated it plans to relocate or create ten high wage jobs with salaries estimated to average $80,000, Hudak said.

Under the Job Creation Incentive Program, firms that hire or relocate a minimum of 10 new employees to Miami Beach within a four-year period (new-to-market businesses) or three-year period (existing business expansion) are eligible for incentives up to $60,000 per year for three (existing businesses) or four (new-to-market businesses) years, depending on the number of employees hired or relocated. The incentives start at $600 per employee for the first 50 jobs, $400 per employee for each job added between 51 and 100, and $250 per employee for each job added above 100. There’s an additional $125 per employee if a company is located in North Beach and $150 per employee if their primary residence is within the City of Miami Beach.

In addition to targeting financial services and technology firms, the City also wants to incentivize corporate headquarter locations for any industry (at the City’s discretion) to locate here. Beyond the job incentive program, eligible companies may also apply for expedited permitting review.

Dax Pedraza, U.S. Operations Manager for Wix, said when the company opened its Miami Beach office, it had around 70 employees, much smaller than they are now. “We were kind of looking for an identity and a place that really fit with our values and our culture and moving to the Beach has really provided us with something that easily aligned with that culture,” he said. 

“We found being on the Beach [has] really allowed us to attract a diverse talent pool and in doing so it’s allowed us to grow and thrive as a business because of the talent we’ve attracted being on Miami Beach.”

“Everyone enjoys coming to the office, enjoys being here,” Pedraza said. “It’s not only being in the office, but we can easily step outside of the office and enjoy the surrounding businesses and enjoy the surrounding areas because it’s a very easy transition to go from work to play and I think that’s something that we really love about the area… It speaks to our culture and our values. It’s not just our office within our four walls, it’s really everything surrounding as well that we consider our office.”

Derrick Miles, founder and CEO of CourMed, described what his company does to the Finance Committee. “Think of uber, Lyft, Grubhub for delivering food and grocery but we deliver healthcare, so it’s prescriptions, high-end vitamins, monoclonal antibodies. We do it in a concierge way, so you don’t have to leave your home for anything. You can stay at home and get a concierge service from us.”

Miles said, as a former health care executive, concierge healthcare services were available to him but not to the masses. “It typically starts with people who are in a family office and those are ultra-high net worth individuals. What we’ve done at CourMed is find a way to provide a concrierge level of healthcare to more people than just the ultra-wealthy. Now, we do have ultra-wealthy customers, but we have found a way to make it available for all people.”

Why Miami Beach? Miles said “The lion’s share of our customers are 50 years and older so when we mapped out the areas around the country, Miami Beach really jumped off the map for us” in terms of its demographics. He added, “I’m originally from Florida, so it’s almost a homecoming for me.”

The Finance Committee voted unanimously (3-0) to recommend the financial incentives for Wix and CourMed. The full Commission will consider them at its meeting on Wednesday. Based on initial projections, Wix will be eligible for $30,000-$60,000 in incentives for three years as an expanding company while CourMed is estimated to be eligible for $6,000-8,000 per year for four years. The awards are made after proof of payroll is provided annually, according to Economic Development Director Rickelle Williams.

In August, the City announced that GMF Capital, an investment management firm, will relocate its headquarters from New York and Melvin Capital, an investment advisory firm, will open an office here. Both have signed leases at 1674 Meridian, also steps away from Lincoln Road. 

In a memo to Commissioners, City Manager Hudak said, GMF “holds over $10 billion in real estate and healthcare assets.” The company has signed a five-year lease with renewal options for over 2,400 sq. ft. and “intends in short order to hire over a dozen employees to work out of its new Miami Beach office and create approximately twenty-five (25) jobs over a four-year period, with estimated wages averaging $100,000.”
 
Melvin Capital, she said, manages over $11 billion in assets and “plans to be a long-term stakeholder in the city with a 10-year lease for 6,762 square feet (an entire floor) of Class A office space.” They plan to invest approximately $1.1 million on capital improvements. 

“The firm intends to hire approximately twenty (20) new employees in high-wage jobs in the coming year, with an additional ten (10) new employees over four years,” Hudak said. “Wages are estimated to be $150,000 on average.”

David Kurd, Melvin Capital’s COO, spoke to the Finance Committee last month and praised the City’s incentive programs. “I don’t really know how to describe the difference in feeling coming from New York City where it’s a very hostile environment towards businesses… and basically the open arms with which you’ve welcomed us. It’s just completely refreshing and we think it’s incredible. We tell everybody that we speak with about just how it’s such an incredible atmosphere.” He said they hope to have their office open in January.

As to pinpointing an office location, Kurd said, it started first with founder Gabe Plotkin’s move to Miami Beach. “We’ve got a lot of fairly young employees – I’d say mid- to late 20s, early 30s, and when we talked about different parts [of Florida], I’d say the enthusiasm for them to relocate when we spoke about Miami Beach versus other areas [such as downtown Miami and Palm Beach], the enthusiasm to relocate [to Miami Beach] was just far higher and so, that kind of made the decision for us. It was really pretty straightforward after that.”

Jared Frydman, Managing Director at GMF, told the Finance Committee a few of the company’s team members have already bought homes here and they are “looking to grow our team exponentially.” 

As to choosing Miami Beach, he said, “The focus was really based on where we could grow our business.” Noting the firm is “primarily focused on the real estate sector,” he said,  “For us, it’s about fundamentals, growth – employment growth, population growth, where are young people moving – really where is the next place that we see a tremendous amount of upside and growth in the fundamentals and demographics from an income perspective and, of course, the other factors I mentioned, population, employment, just economic growth, and upside.”

“We targeted Florida for that specifically and then within the State of Florida, where did we see the most opportunity to grow our business and really find and retain talent,” Frydman said. Miami Beach, he said, allows the firm to “be a little more boutique-y and differentiated” from the larger firms in the financial sector that are not on the Beach.  “We really wanted to separate and differentiate ourselves that way and we found our way to the Beach and looked for the best office space we could find, and we think it’s really going to be a fantastic opportunity to grow the business.”

GMF anticipates moving into their space before the end of the year. 

Williams said the incentives for GMF and Melvin are “probably in the area of $30,000” per year based on employment projections. The City Commission approved the jobs incentives for the two companies at its September 30 meeting.

BTIG, a New York-based global financial services firm, also announced it will open a regional office here and utilize the expedited permitting process. No word as yet on if they will apply for the jobs incentives. In another memo last month, City Manager Alina Hudak informed Commissioners that BTIG plans to relocate or hire 20 employees in high-wage jobs in the coming year with plans to scale up to a total of 50 employees within four years. 

At this week’s Finance Committee meeting, Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, “To the residents that are listening out there, these are the businesses that are going to help fund the services that we so badly want to offer. These are the businesses that are going to provide diversification if, heaven forbid, there are other issues hitting tourism.”

Committee Chair Commissioner Ricky Arriola told Williams and the Economic Development and Communications teams, “This is critical for our city that you and we be successful in this because we can really reposition our city in a really good spot for the long term and address some of the challenges that we’ve been talking about for the past couple of years.”

Referencing the “bold-faced names” who’ve moved their families and businesses or are in the process of moving their businesses here, he said, “They believe in our future, but they also have some needs. I think all of us are looking to bring Class A office space because we want them to open their offices here in Miami Beach.”

“If we all pull this off,” Arriola said, “We will make Miami Beach more resilient from an economic perspective, a better-quality place to live, and I think for the next generation, our children, Miami, Miami Beach will be the upper echelon of cities in the country. If you look at things that are happening in places like San Francisco and Portland and New York, they’re going backwards. We’re moving forward. Our ability to attract on a permanent basis these world-class companies will really put our community in a great position for the next generation or two, so what you guys are doing is a big part of that so, you know, I’m rooting for you, counting on you to pull it off.”

Photo: Shutterstock.com
 

Commissioner Floats Idea for Miami Beach Arts and Culture G.O. Bond


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
First step, inventory of City facilities needing upgrades

Miami Beach and Aspen Institute Announce Global Climate Event


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
New Ideas Festival to Launch in March 2022