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By Jon Warech | June 29, 2015 | Lifestyle
The days of just spring-breakers and snowbirds are out, as a workforce and families from all over the world are flocking to Miami and calling it home.
When Dr. LaWrence Schiffman was an undergraduate at the University of Miami, he fell in love with this city for the same reason that most people do—the year-round sunshine, the glistening ocean waters, and the vibrant nightlife. A New Jersey native, Schiffman dreamed of returning and calling Miami his permanent home, but at the time, starting a successful dermatology practice in a vacation town seemed impossible. “I went back up north for all of my medical training, and when I finished my residency requirements, I looked into returning,” says Schiffman. “I knew that if I went to work for a group practice in New York or Philadelphia, I could make a lot more money, but I wanted more out of life.”
Schiffman’s thoughts might have been typical for professionals just a few years ago, but more and more people are deciding there’s no reason to wait to live in paradise. Schiffman himself headed south, worked for a group practice in Miami, and in July 2012, he broke out on his own and opened Miami Skin Doctor. “I set up shop in Doral, where there were very few dermatologists, and in three years the town has grown exponentially around me,” he says. “It’s expanding so much that I can’t even get into the office sometimes.”
Doral, which is home to corporate headquarters for Carnival Cruise Lines, Univision, the Miami Herald, and many other major companies, is just one area of Miami that is booming, and Schiffman’s success story of a practice that “is growing faster than I can keep up with” is one of many in a developing city where sun and fun are taking a backseat to entrepreneurship, big business, and a plethora of opportunities for people in all professions.
“No longer is Miami simply known as a place where the rich come to play,” says Alyce Robertson, executive director of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, an independent public agency helping business boom downtown. “It has emerged as a sophisticated financial hub where real money is being put to work. Dozens of hedge funds and other financial firms are flocking to Miami’s urban core from New York, California, and parts of Latin America.”
Miami’s evolving design and culture scenes act as a magnet now more than ever. Santiago Smulevich’s family moved from Argentina to the Magic City more than a decade ago and opened AM Profile, a furniture and custom-closets store in the Design District. Smulevich moved back to Argentina after school, chasing what he thought was a better opportunity. But with the Design District morphing into one of the country’s top high-end shopping destinations over the past few years, he knew Miami was the place to be.
“I moved back here four years ago because Miami offered an opportunity to grow as a businessman in a way that Argentina did not,” says Smulevich, who now owns and operates AM Profile. “For South Americans, it’s a lot easier to be in Miami than anywhere else because of the language and the culture. We can be successful here without having to change too much of our daily lives.”
Though the Latin influence makes Miami an American city like no other, the growing cultural and intellectual landscape lends a gravitas that Miami lacked in decades past. The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and the arrival of the Faena Forum, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, and even smaller projects like the Wynwood Greenhouse put Miami on par with any major US city. “Specifically in the art world, everyone is watching Miami,” says Leann Standish, who came here from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2011 to become the deputy director of external affairs at PAMM. “Everywhere I travel, people ask about the museum. Miami is in a very unique position in that it’s an important international city, yet it is also a young city that moves at an incredibly fast pace.”
While the quick advancements have more people planting roots in Miami, tourism is still going strong. New hotels continue to pop up all over town, and new restaurants are opening their doors on what feels like a daily basis, coming from Canada, Europe, South America, and, of course, New York. Celebrity chefs are either opening outposts of their famed eateries here or using the city as a launching pad for new establishments. Tourism is thriving, but now it’s no longer Miami’s only source of income. In fact, many of those tourists end up staying after their vacation. On average, 50,000 New Yorkers relocate to Florida every year. More than 537,000 people from all over the world moved here last year, according to 2014 Census figures, making Florida now the third-most-populated state in the country, behind California and Texas.
“People are shocked to learn that the tourism component of the Miami economy accounts for just 12 percent of employment—the third-largest sector of employment, behind professional and business services (16 percent) and education and health services (15 percent),” says Jordan Niefeld, a CPA, certified financial planner, and investment advisor at Raymond James in Aventura. “With companies like ExxonMobil, Sony, IBM, Cisco Systems, Caterpillar, and Johnson & Johnson locating their Latin American headquarters in Miami, that number will continue to shift.”
And, of course, there have been those rumors about Facebook setting up shop in Wynwood.
Miami’s development in recent years into a well-rounded city has attracted big spenders looking to get in on the action. The Knight Frank 2015 Wealth Report’s Global Cities Survey recently revealed that only two US cities ranked in the top 10 for global investment—New York and Miami, which, according to Jacob Roffman, principal of 13th Floor Investments, means that investment in Miami should remain. In fact, 28 of Florida’s total 42 billionaires list South Florida specifically as their primary residence, according to Forbes’s World’s Billionaires list of 2015. Billionaires tend to know something about where to live, invest, and work.
“Miami continues to mature as a city and is, today, far more than simply a gateway to Latin America—it is a gateway to the world, and a magnet for highimpact investment,” says Roffman. “Miami is a safe and secure place for foreign investors to put their money.”
On a small-business scale, though, Miami is a land of opportunity as well. Stacy Josloff, owner of Pure Therapy and designer of Inca Swimwear, opened a retail store in Miami Beach six years ago but planned to move back to New York after the first year. “One year passed. Two years passed. Now we’re on year seven,” she says. “I always thought that New York was the place that I’d live and die in, but in Manhattan, if your last name isn’t Rockefeller, it’s hard to be an entrepreneur. If you retain the work ethic and business mind that you had in New York and bring it down here, there is opportunity to grow and be successful.”
Dr. Schiffman echoes that sentiment. “In New York, you have 50 million dermatologists with their own skincare lines and TV shows,” he says. “You can be part of that, but you’re just one of many. Here, there is a sense that all goals can be achieved if you put your mind to it.”
In Miami, doctors, lawyers, artists, and businesspeople of all kinds are achieving career milestones that less than a decade ago seemed impossible. The idea of working where others vacation is no longer a pipe dream but instead a reality as Miami morphs into the city that Schiffman hoped it could be back when he was a college student. “My practice is growing at a phenomenal pace, I met the love of my life, and I’m on the water nearly every weekend,” he says. “It’s a pretty nice life.”
Which basically proves if you can make it here, you don’t need to make it anywhere else.
photography by Jeffery Salter.
shot on location at the Biltmore. The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables
opened in 1926, and 70 years
later it was named to the National
Register of Historic Places as a
National Historic Landmark. It
recently completed a $40 million
renovation program, including
restoration of the 18-hole
championship golf course and its
22,000-square-foot pool, the
largest hotel pool in the
continental US. Styling by Kristina Kitchen
for Artists at Wilhelmina
Hair by Steven Hoeppner
Makeup by Paola Orlando