Roundtable offers glimpse into future of Fort Lauderdale November 24, 2015

Fort Lauderdale has been the home of the boat show for more than 50 years, but what will the future bring?

That was the topic of a panel held during FLIBS featuring leaders from the city’s tourism, marine, real estate, education and other key industries and moderated by Mayor Jack Seiler.

Ten of the city’s key players assembled in one room, where they had an open, no-holds-barred dialogue about the city’s outlook and progress, the challenges it faces and opportunities for collaboration. Topics included progress and challenges facing the market and the overall branding/perception of the city as a high-quality, competitive business hub, benefits/consequences of gentrification, the impact of Broward’s ongoing Uber battle, development of Fort Lauderdale as a luxury tourism destination, an update on the Intracoastal dredge and the economic impact of record trade milestones at Port Everglades.

The panelists were Jimmy Tate with Tate Capital, Matt Allen with The Related Group, Nicki Grossman with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Peg Buchan­ with Port Everglades, Dr. J. Preston Jones with the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business & Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, Bob Swindell with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Margaret Callihan with SunTrust Bank of South Florida, Efren “Skip” Zimbalist III with Show Management and Phil Purcell with MIASF.

Fort Lauderdale is a community that encourages success, according to Grossman. “It’s a community that allows you to start a business and become very successful,” she said. “It’s a place where success is something everyone can achieve.”

When asked by Seiler what Fort Lauderdale will look like in 20 years, Buchan noted that recently Port Everglades had a ship with 3,000 cargo containers on it. “After the dredge that same ship will be able to come in with 9,000 containers,” she said.

Purcell pointed to changes already in the works, including the dredge, all the businesses reinvesting right now and the Bahia Mar transformation and noted that the show is growing and needs space and infrastructure. “People vote with their feet – we can’t take anything for granted,” he said.

Tate noted that the new Bahia Mar, a public-private partnership, will have waterfront dining, a new hotel and residential, as well as easy access to the waterfront. “It will be developed so people can come by boat or walk, and utilize other means of transportation.”

Zimbalist said he hopes to see more luxury shopping and restaurants downtown.

The panelists had a variety of responses when asked what factors lead them to think the future is so bright.

“There’s an energy in the air, you can feel it,” said Tate. “What excites us is the energy of the town.”

“If you look around the show here, you’ll see boats from Italy, Germany, Turkey, Holland and many other countries,” Purcell said. “We bring the best entrepreneurs here. We have the third largest reef in the world off our coast. We have the educational institutions doing groundbreaking oceanographic research.”

And there’s no better way to show off Fort Lauderdale than with the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, said Swindell.

© MIASF 2016 | All rights reserved | Photo credit: Scott Pearson Photography

Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 2312 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954.524.2733