Economics of ‘South Beach’

Go Lean Commentary

The US has an economy; the 30 Caribbean member-states have economies. The US does it better!

For example, the entire Caribbean region enjoys 80 million visitors a year; (though this figure includes 12 million cruise passengers visiting multiple Caribbean destinations on one cruise); just the US city of Orlando has one destination – Walt Disney World – that enjoys 57 million visitors-a-year alone. Further down the list of high traffic resort cities is the destination of Miami Beach, Florida; each year Miami Beach hotels host over 35% of the ten (10) million tourists who visit Greater Miami.

Yes, the US cities do tourism better than our Caribbean counterparts; and their economies are more diversified.

If only we, in the Caribbean, could be more like … the American city of Miami (Beach).

It is a fitting comparison:

  • Global City in the tropical zone – a snowbird haven-refuge from cold northern cities.
  • Home away from home for many Caribbean people.
  • Primary economic engine of tourism (leisure and medical), travel (air and cruises), financial services and trade. See Miami’s largest employers in the Appendix below.

The movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean seeks to reboot the economic engines of the Caribbean member-states – so we can perform better. The book studies models and lessons from other communities (cities and countries): i.e. New York City (Page 137), Detroit (Page 140) and Omaha (Page 138). In fact, this movement had previously detailed how the Greater Miami metropolitan area has become so successful a community mainly because of the failures of Caribbean communities. Rather than the entire metropolitan area of Greater Miami, we are hereby exploring just the economic landscape of Miami Beach, and more exactly the neighborhood of South Beach. This commentary, however, relates that there are lessons from ‘South Beach’ and all of Greater Miami that we can apply in the Caribbean.

Miami Beach is a coastal resort city in Miami-Dade County…. It was incorporated on March 26, 1915.[7] The municipality is located on natural and man-made barrier islands between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, the latter of which separates “the Beach” from the City of Miami. The neighborhood of South Beach, comprising the southernmost 2.5 square miles of Miami Beach, along with downtown Miami and the Port of Miami, collectively form the commercial center of South Florida[8] [(Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan statistical area)]. As of the [latest] 2010 census, Miami Beach had a total population of 87,779.[9] It has been one of America’s pre-eminent beach resorts since the early 20th century. – Wikipedia.


South Beach is a classic beach resort town – see the Wikipedia definition here – except that there are two de facto seasons: good (Summer and Early Autumn) and great (Late Autumn, Winter and Spring):

resort town, often called a resort city or resort destination, is an urban area where tourism or vacationing is the primary component of the local culture and economy. A typical resort town has one or more actual resorts in the surrounding area. Sometimes the term resort town is used simply for a locale popular among tourists. The term can also refer to either an incorporated or unincorporated contiguous area where the ratio of transient rooms, measured in bed units, is greater than 60% of the permanent population.[1]

Generally, tourism is the main export in a resort town economy, with most residents of the area working in the tourism or resort industry. Shops and luxury boutiques selling locally themed souvenirs, motels, and unique restaurants often proliferate the downtown areas of a resort town.

Resort Town Economy
If the resorts or tourist attractions are seasonal in nature, resort towns typically experience an on-season where the town is bustling with tourists and workers, and an off-season where the town is populated only by a small amount of local year-round residents.

In addition, resort towns are often popular with wealthy retirees and people wishing to purchase vacation homes, which typically drives up property values and the cost of living in the region. Sometimes, resort towns can become boomtowns due to the quick development of retirement and vacation-based residences.[3]

However, most of the employment available in resort towns is typically low paying and it can be difficult for workers to afford to live the area in which they are employed.[4] Many resort towns have spawned nearby bedroom communities where the majority of the resort workforce lives.

Resorts towns sometimes struggle with problems regarding sustainable growth, due to the seasonal nature of the economy, the dependence on a single industry, and the difficulties in retaining a stable workforce.[5]

Economic impact of tourism
Local residents are generally receptive of the economic impacts of tourism. Resort towns tend to enjoy lower unemployment rates, improved infrastructure, more advanced telecommunication and transportation capabilities, and higher standards of living and greater income in relation to those who live outside this area.[6] Increased economic activity in resort towns can also have positive effects on the country’s overall economic growth and development. In addition, business generated by resort towns have been credited with supporting the local economy through times of national market failure and depression, as in the case of San Marcos, California during the cotton market bust in the early 1920s and Great Depression of 1929.[2]

Click Photo to Expand – Lots of communities charge supplemental taxes for community revenues

Tourism, more exactly Resort Tourism, is the Number One economic driver in the Caribbean. Yet, our region has so many societal defects. We must do a better job at our primary job. What can we learn from Greater Miami, Miami Beach and South Beach?

This small peninsula of South Beach is Hot, Hot, Hot … as a party and tourist destination, thereby creating a scarcity of real estate. The dining, night-clubbing, shopping and entertainment options in this District are in high demand, all year long. Not all patrons to this District stay at area hotels, as many are locals in addition to the constant flow of visitors. Most night clubs, and even some restaurant-bars, apply a Cover Charge, typically $20 per person. These patrons should also expect to pay $40 just for valet parking, and similarly above-average prices for self-parking. Hotel rates are consistently above average, even during the off-season (consider $300 per night). During the peak-season, rates are traditionally in excess of $500. Hotel guests with rental cars face the same $40 per night parking charges.

The party continues every night until 5am; (one of the latest alcohol-serving policies in the nation).  Just like any other community, Miami Beach has to contend with Agents of Change. There is a conservative movement to dampen the hot nightlife in South Beach. These proponents raised the issue as a public referendum on November 7, 2017 with a measure, to limit liquor sales to 2am. This direct democratic action failed at a 64% to 35% ratio. The economic forces of South Beach won again!

These economic realities transcend many dimensions of Miami Beach life; consider governance. The City collects an add-on to the state’s usual Sales Tax revenues. What add-ons?

Transient Lodging Rental Taxes for Short Term Rentals Summary Chart
3% Convention Development Tax 2% Tourist Development Tax 1% Sports Franchise Tax
Food & Beverage Tax Summary Chart
2% Tourist Development Surtax 1% Homeless and Spouse Abuse Tax

Source: Retrieved December 5, 2017 from:

See this sample/example here of a typical night out at a local South Beach restaurant recently:

This movement, behind the Go Lean book, seeks to reform and transform the economic engines of Caribbean society by being technocratic in applying best practices from the field of Economics. South Beach and Miami Beach offers a lot of lessons: good, bad and ugly.

One bad lesson is the practice of guaranteed gratuity. In a previous blog-commentary, this policy was ridiculed as unbecoming as a community ethos; it fosters a spirit of entitlement. In fact, the practice is well-chronicled in the field of Economics as “rent-seeking”; consider this sample:

This is distinguished in economic theory as separate from profit-seeking, in which entities seek to extract value by engaging in mutually beneficial transactions.[6] While profit-seeking fosters the creation of wealth, rent-seeking is the use of social institutions such as the power of government to redistribute wealth among different groups without creating any new wealth.[7]

Note: For the restaurant receipt in the above-photo, the credit card bill, still contained a line item for additional tip, even though 20-percent was already added as a gratuity-service charge.

There it is: rent-seeking.

(Rent-seeking practices are quite common in the Caribbean; even codified as law in some places).

The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The CU is designed to be a technocratic intergovernmental entity that shepherds economic growth for the Caribbean region. The goal is to reboot and optimize the region’s economic, security and governing engines. The Go Lean/CU roadmap employs wise strategies, like the “Separation-of-Powers between CU federal agencies and Caribbean member-state governments”; so the limitations of national laws in a member-state would not override the CU. The CU‘s technocratic practices would directly apply to the installation of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and Self-Governing Entities (SGE); these operate in controlled bordered territories like campuses, industrial parks, research labs, industrial plants and Entertainment Zones.

Notice the presence here of one such zone, already existing in Jamaica.

Title: Jamaica’s first entertainment zone named

Jamaica’s Entertainment Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange, has named Fort Rocky in Port Royal as Jamaica’s first entertainment zone.

The minister made the announcement at the recent launch of Carnival in Jamaica 2018.

Drives cultural and economic value
Minister Grange said the new entertainment zone has been endorsed by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), along with the Town and Country Planning Authority.

“We are working with (NEPA) and the Ministry’s agencies, including the National Heritage Trust, to ensure that our cultural sites are preserved and utilized in a manner that drives cultural and economic value to us as a nation,” she noted.

Historical value
Entertainment zones like Fort Rocky are areas in which any legal entertainment and sports activity can be staged any time of day or night unhindered, as long as the organizers are mindful of the historical value of such sites.

While fueling the entertainment industry, these entertainment zones are expected to neutralize the problem of noise nuisance.

The Entertainment and Culture Minister has also called on private business operators to take advantage of the opportunity to use these zones. She provided information that two other entertainment zones will be declared outside of the Corporate Area in the near future.

Source: Retrieved December 6, 2017 from:

The Go Lean/CU roadmap will optimize this strategy for deployment of Self-Governing Entities throughout the region.

Imagine restaurant-bars-nightclubs open until 5am.

This is the Economics of ‘South Beach’ … and a good learned-lesson.

Miami’s South Beach is a hot night-spot right now. What emboldens its success is the embrace of Caribbean culture. Think:

The concept of Miami Sound … is Caribbean musical fusion.

The name Miami Sound Machine also refers to the Grammy Award winning musical group led by Cuban-Americans Gloria and Emelio Estefan. They are also proprietors of one of the biggest night clubs on South Beach: Mango’s. See the VIDEO here:

VIDEO – Mangos Tropical Cafe in South Beach, Miami [4K] –

Published on Nov 30, 2016 – A glimpse inside Mango’s Tropical Café in South Beach, Miami. Watch in 4K resolution.

Miami is Hot, Hot, Hot ordinarily.

Then in the winter peak-season, it is Hotter still …

… and then for Art Basel – the annual Arts in Miami pageant peaking this year December 6 to 11 – it is the Hottest destination in the country. See more here:

Title: It’s not only rich people who should care about Art Basel. Here’s why.

When flocks of serious — and seriously loaded — art gatherers descend on South Florida for the annual Art Basel in Miami Beach pageant, they’re coming to snag some of the best contemporary work money can buy from the 268 galleries from across the globe conveniently gathered at the city’s convention center.

But that’s not the sole reason they make their way to Miami Beach and Miami.

Many also come to see art they cannot buy — the increasingly rich side feast served up by the cities’ expanding range of museums and private art collections that are open to all.

Yes, there’s the warm weather, the nice hotels and restaurants (staffed by local workers) — not to mention the two dozen satellite fairs and myriad events that make up the annual December frenzy known as Miami Art Week. …

See the full story here:

Source: Miami Herald posted December 2, 2017; retrieved December 6, 2017.

Caribbean people have done it in Miami; we can also do it in the Caribbean. This is the vision of a new Caribbean; a better place to live, work and play right here at home, without having to flee the region.

In total, the Go Lean/CU roadmap will employ strategies, tactics and implementations to impact its prime directives; identified with the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety assurances and protect the region’s economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean book presents a 370-page roadmap on how to optimize the economic engines … and how to avoid bad practices, like rent-seeking. The book stresses key community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies necessary to transform and turn-around the eco-systems of Caribbean society. These points are detailed in the book as follows:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate all 30 member-states/ 4 languages into a Single Market Page 45
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – CU Federal Government versus Member-State Governance Page 71
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change – Award exploratory rights in exclusive territories Page 101
Implementation – Start-up Benefits from the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Page 104
Implementation – Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities (SGE) Page 105
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – #3: Proactive Anti-crime Measures Page 127
Planning – Ways to Improve Trade Page 128
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy – Protect Property Rights Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Events Page 191
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Fairgrounds Page 192
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street Page 201

To accomplish this goal of elevating Caribbean society, we must learn lessons from far-away places and nearby lands (like Miami), foster good economic habits … and abandon bad ones. This is how to grow the economy: create jobs; create businesses; retain people; foster new opportunities, learn from past mistakes and accomplishments.

All Caribbean stakeholders – residents, Diaspora and visitors – are urged to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap for change … and empowerment. This plan, though a Big Idea, is conceivable, believable and achievable. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix – Miami Top Employers

According to Miami’s Beacon Council – the local Economic Development agency – the top private employers in 2014 in Miami-Dade were:[64]

# Employer # of employees
1 University of Miami and Health System 12,818
2 Baptist Health South Florida 11,353
3 American Airlines 11,031
4 Carnival Cruise Lines 3,500
5 Miami Children’s Hospital 3,500
6 Mount Sinai Medical Center 3,321
7 Florida Power and Light Co. 3,011
8 Royal Caribbean International 2,989
9 Wells Fargo 2,050
10 Bank of America 2,000

According to Miami’s Beacon Council, the top Government employers in 2014 in Miami-Dade were:[64]

# Employer # of employees
1 Miami-Dade County Public Schools 33,477
2 Miami-Dade County 25,502
3 Federal Government 19,200
4 Florida State Government 17,100
5 Jackson Health System 9,800

Source: Retrieved December 5, 2017 from:,_Florida#Economy

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