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30 March 2014

Use Miami’s start-up culture to create jobs

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Jeff Bezos was from Miami. He moved to the Northeast for college and drove to Seattle after graduation, writing the business plan for Amazon.com along the way.

Eduardo Saverin was also from Miami. Like Bezos, he went north for college, where he co-founded Facebook and moved the company to Palo Alto, Calif.

We face tough questions, usually from anxious mothers, about our intentions after graduation. For those seeking their own careers, leaving town used to make sense. But lately Miami offers a growing start-up ecosystem in which students should consider building both a career and a life.

According to Toppel’s Graduating Student Survey, the majority of the class of 2013 (53 percent) working after commencement ended up outside of Florida.

Why not stick around town after graduation? If you aren’t sure of what to do, like 9 percent of the class of 2013, but still have an idea, Miami is the place for you.

Two years ago, the major philanthropic organization Knight Foundation decided to expand its support of South Florida arts to an entrepreneurial focus. And in the fast-paced start-up world, those long two years have created a thriving ecosystem. In fact, the Kauffman Foundation rated Miami as the per capita number one entrepreneurial city in the country last year.

This is, for many key reasons, why everyone supports making ideas a reality. There are myriad incubators that will help with guidance in turning ideas into companies. For this, our own Launch Pad is a college leader.

Miami has also seen a boom in collaborative spaces and events where connections really foster innovation. Coworking spaces like the LAB Miami in Wynwood (full disclosure: I intern there and it is the world’s coolest space) or the Venture Hive in Downtown definitely beat an excel spreadsheet in a cubicle.

Events like next month’s Start-Up City: Miami, featuring the Atlantic’s Richard Florida, or May’s eMerge Americas Conference give local entrepreneurs a chance to work with rockstars of the “creative class” culture.

Artists, highlighted at Art Basel and given blank canvasses on Wynwood Walls, are as much a part of this entrepreneurial ecosystem as techies. The resulting South Florida companies care as much about design as they performance.

Despite (or because of) our frankly dreadful public transit, close-knit neighborhoods full of hipsters and young families are popping up everywhere. The Downtown Development Authority has seen an 80 percent increase in core urban population over the decade.

Fundamentally, this all reflects the great assets of Miami: our city’s relative youth and international mindset. With so many newcomers to South Florida and our humble university from all around the world, we can escape many of the stifling traditional social hierarchies that still dominate in more northern, colder parts of the United States. Both the city and its inhabitants are young, so both grow together.

You don’t have to be the next Eduardo Saverin or Jeff Bezos to create a job you love. But nowadays, you can do it in a city you love, Miami.

Patrick Quinlan is a sophomore majoring in international studies and political science.