By Chris Umpierre / MIAMI Staff
Miami-based Brazilians will pull on their yellow No. 10 Neymar jerseys. Local Argentines will sport blue-and-white striped jerseys. Local Colombians will wear yellow, Peruvians red and Venezuelans burgundy.
These ethnic groups and more will come together this month at Miami sports bars to watch the 2016 Summer Olympics on TV, and one central theme will be on display: Miami’s incredible diversity.
A city once defined by Cubans is now home to a growing South American population that is affluent, well-educated and business oriented.
South Americans’ impact on Miami can be seen in the city’s changing skyline, booming real estate market, international banks, growing downtown, construction cranes, cultural institutions and more. South Americans have helped Miami become a world-class global city. South Americans have helped diversify Miami’s economy, encourage more international visitors and homebuyers, add international businesses and grow its import-export trade.
Miami, often nicknamed the Capital of Latin America, overtook Los Angeles and now has the highest share of business owners who were foreign-born in the United States. Immigrants comprise 39 percent of Miami’s population and 45 percent of the city’s business owners.
Miami’s Growing South American Population
Cubans still comprise Miami’s largest ethnic group, representing 34.3 percent of the Miami-Dade County population. But South Americans are rapidly rising. Colombians are Miami’s second-largest Hispanic group, comprising 4.6 percent of Miami’s population.
The Colombian population in Miami grew 63.7 percent from 2000 to 2010. The Venezuelan Miami population jumped 117 percent during the same time period. Argentina (114.5 percent increase) and Ecuador (87.8 percent) also jumped from 2000 to 2010.
The Impact in Miami Real Estate
A wide range of international consumers play a major role in Miami real estate sales.
Foreign real estate buyers accounted for 36 percent or $6.1 billion of total sales volume, according to the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers in Miami Association of Realtors Business Areas, conducted by the 42,000-member MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The top-four countries investing in South Florida come from South America.
Top Countries Investing In South Florida
7. France and Italy
Colombia continues to lead all foreign countries searching for South Florida real estate, according to the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI). The South American nation finished as the top international country using MIAMI’s search portal, http://www.Miamire.com, in May 2016. Colombia has now led the rankings for six consecutive months.
The Impact in Miami Neighborhoods
The growing South American population in South Florida can be seen, felt and heard in various neighborhoods. Let’s consider two: Doral in Miami-Dade County and Weston in Broward County.
Since the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1999, Venezuelans have migrated to these two aforementioned cities. Doral, which is one of America’s fastest growing cities, is often nicknamed Doralzuela. Doral is 80 percent Hispanic. In 2012, Doral residents elected Venezuelan Luigi Boria as mayor.
Weston in Broward County also has a major Venezuelan population and is often nicknamed Westonzuela. You can easily find arepas and Spanish-language periodicals like “El Venezolano” at gas stations. Weston, one of Broward’s newest cities, has become a suburban home for many exiles seeking the American dream. Venezuelans migrated to Weston to be part of the growing Venezuelan countrymen as they recover from their lives being threatened under President Hugo Chavez’s leftist populist rule.
The Impact in Miami Banks
Brickell in downtown Miami is another area being impacted by South Americans. International banks have flourished in this area, which is often nicknamed the “Wall Street of the South.” As a larger diversification of countries have migrated to Miami, more international banks have followed the Latinos to Miami.
More than 53 banks from North America, Europe and Latin America do business in Brickell. The proliferation of international and domestic banks in this financial district south of downtown has not only created hundreds of local jobs, but it has fueled unprecedented residential and commercial development.
South Florida’s multiculturalism is a key factor in Brickell’s development into a banking powerhouse. About 51.3 percent of Miami residents are foreign born, which is more than double the national average. Miami’s reach extends beyond South America as students in Miami-Dade public schools speak more than 56 different languages and come from 160 countries. The ability to speak multiple languages is key in global banking. Foreign investors feel confident moving their capital to Brickell banks.
The Melting Pot of Miami
As Miami’s brand continues to grow and more international consumers purchase homes here and start businesses here, South Florida is starting to see new groups invest locally.
China, the world’s most populous country, is one of the fastest growing segments of South Florida foreign buyers. The Asian country’s interest should only increase due to Miami’s world-famous lifestyle, top-tier colleges and universities, expansive designer-brand shopping, diversified economy, sunny weather, clean air, walkable districts, and secure investments.
Miami has a reputation for welcoming all ethnicities. Its remarkable diversity is Miami’s greatest strength. Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working.