Ten Ideas for Miami’s Future
From a climate campus to a city in a garden, here are ten ideas for 2024 for Miami.
Send us your list of ideas for Miami for 2024 at email@example.com and we’ll include them in an upcoming newsletter.
And join us on Jan. 26th for a conversation on changing the face of entrepreneurship with Harlem Capital’s Henri Pierre-Jacques. Register here.
The end of 2023 saw countless lists: the top films, books, and news events of the year. With this newsletter, Opportunity Miami spins it forward with ten ideas for Miami’s future.
A few caveats. None of these ideas are novel. Some are underway. Many people are championing them. And it’s not comprehensive.
But, if history is a guide, we know that being intentional is important. We know this because Miami has shown that it can do big things.
In 2002, for instance, Greater Miami established The Children’s Trust, creating an annual funding pipeline for early childhood education that now tops $200 million. Voters approved a $830 million general obligation bond in 2013 to modernize Miami-Dade’s safety net hospital and public health facilities, Jackson Health. In 2018 Miami became home to the first privately funded passenger railway in a century, Brightline, which now connects Miami to Orlando. From 2006 to 2019, seven civic and cultural institutions - from the Arsht Center to Rubell Museum and New World Center, PAMM, ICA Miami, Moss Center, and Frost Science in between - opened new museums and performance halls, revolutionizing Miami’s cultural life. A ten-mile linear park, The Underline, is currently being built from the Miami River to Kendall.
These barely scratch the surface of the dramatic changes we’ve seen. But the point is that it’s worth thinking about what should happen next - because in Miami ideas often become reality.
So it here goes.
Climate Campus - Create a cluster of educational institutions, classrooms, research facilities, accelerators, coworking space for entrepreneurs, and community gatherings, all focused on developing climate solutions and building climate tech companies. To bolster its tech community, New York City created Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island. Miami can do the same and vividly signal to the world it’s turning a vulnerability into a great strength. Not only that, it would be a key pillar in making Miami a global climate solutions hub and leader in the transition to a net zero economy. Read our case for a climate campus here.
Game-changing Public Library - Plans are afoot for a new library in downtown Miami. When done right, libraries can grab the world’s attention, drive a city’s evolution, and expand opportunities. A recent example is the Oodi Library in Helsinki. TIME magazine included it on its World Greatest Places list, calling it “a library of the future.” I wrote about my experience visiting the Oodi Library last year. Seemingly any dream can be built there with 3D printers, gaming facilities, test kitchens for chefs, sewing machines for aspiring fashion designers, sound studios for musicians – and books, too. It draws so many people that since opening in 2018 it’s been dubbed Helsinki’s “living room.”
City in a Garden - Nannette Zapata, COO of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the 83-acre globally acclaimed garden in Coral Gables, is spearheading an effort to bring greenery and plant life to every part of our city. From buildings clad with vertical green facades, roof gardens, overflowing flora and fauna ringing the base of every structure, and vast tree canopies in countless thoroughfares. It not only beautifies Greater Miami but would be a key component in cooling the city. Singapore launched such an effort, which is getting global attention, to address extreme heat. Greater Miami could soon become the Emerald City. Stay tuned for our interview with Zapata coming out soon.
Zero Food Waste County - Thrown-away food is the single largest source of waste in landfills and contributes massive climate-warming gasses (if food waste in landfills were a country it would be the third biggest emitter of climate-warming gasses in the world). Zero food waste eases the burden on overburdened landfills and limits emissions. To do it, we graduate from two receptacles in our kitchens to three - trash, recycling, and food waste bins. We’re now seeing innovations in addressing food waste like the startup Mill, which we featured last month, that turns food waste into animal feed. And right here in South Florida, the Fertile Earth Worm Farm turns food waste from our stadiums and markets into compost.
Grading Buildings on Sustainability - After transportation, Greater Miami’s buildings are its biggest emitter of climate-warming gasses. This is true in cities around the world. To address this, New York City passed the Climate Mobilization Act, establishing energy efficiency and greenhouse gas limits. Not only that, each building is graded - the best get an A, the worst a D, and those who don’t participate get an F - and must very publicly put their grade on an exterior wall for all to see. Now that Miami has built the most impressive skyline south of Manhattan, why not grade our buildings too?
Getting to 60 percent with no barriers to learning - At our first Opportunity Miami | Academic Leaders Council community event, Lumina Foundation CEO Jamie Merisotis spoke about the future of talent development. He gave us one number to think about: 60. Namely, for communities to be competitive - and to drive social mobility broadly - 60 percent of adults need to have an associate's degree or an industry certificate of equivalent value. Florida is at 52.5 percent; Miami-Dade is at 44.7 percent. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega launched the FutureReady Miami-Dade Scholarship in October allowing any resident to get an associate's degree at Miami Dade College at no cost. Let’s get the word out about remarkable programs like this, and others, and get to 60.
Embrace the transport revolution - Miami-Dade County is seeing plenty of efforts in transportation, such as with the Better Bus Network. A new 20-mile busway project in South Dade with dedicated bus lanes is being finished. But a revolution is coming. Billions are being poured into eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles that are quiet and emission-free) and may be operating in cities by next year. Packages are being delivered by drones. Startups like Regent are proposing seagliders to augment regional travel. Let’s be a place that embraces innovations in getting around.
EV Charging Network for All - While accommodating many modes of transportation is key, it’s a good bet people will still want their cars. But the future is electric, emission-free cars. So let’s build the infrastructure to accommodate that future, with EV charging stations in all neighborhoods ensuring no one is left out and no one fears not finding a place to charge. Miami-Dade can be a national leader. After all, Florida is already second in terms of most EVs on the road. Miami-Dade, Florida’s biggest county, is home to Blink, one of the largest car charging networks in the US, along with rapidly growing Miami startups like OBE Power.
Rooftop solar across Miami - Next time you’re flying into Miami International Airport from the west, look down. You’ll see acres of flat roofs of warehouses and office buildings. But what if they were all covered with solar panels, creating clean, renewable energy? It’s not far-fetched. Costex, which owns a 500,000-square-foot office and warehouse just north of the airport, has covered its roof with solar panels, and more than 95 percent of its energy is powered by the sun.
Like the Children’s Trust, but a Housing Trust? - What if the community established a Trust, modeled after organizations like The Children’s Trust, focused on affordable housing? There are already funding sources and organizations focused on this. But what if it was organized in a public-facing institution armed with a significant dedicated funding source, executive leadership and a board of leaders from across the community focused on seeding new projects, experimenting with efforts already tried elsewhere, advocating for smart policy, and was a singular source of leadership on solving one of our region’s key challenges?
So there’s ten. There are so many more – high-speed internet as ubiquitous in homes as running water and electricity, active confrontation of sea level rise through smart stormwater systems, a renewed effort to develop complete streets accommodating cyclists, pedestrians, scooters, and mass transit as much as cars. Would love to hear yours.
CONVERSATIONS ON OUR FUTURE
We hope you will join us on Friday, January 26 from 11:30 to 12:30 for our next Opportunity Miami Conversations on our future. We will sit down at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council office with Henri Pierre-Jacques, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Harlem Capital, one of the leading VC firms in the country focused on funding Black and women founders. You can RSVP here.
If you have a company, entrepreneur, or idea to suggest that relates to building Miami’s future, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch our Interview and On Site video series featuring leaders shaping Miami's future. Please also follow us on our social media channels. If you were forwarded this newsletter, you can subscribe by clicking here. And if you are new to Opportunity Miami, you can learn about our mission and work here.