Miami’s Mayor Francis Suarez has pledged to turn Miami into a hub for crypto-innovation and tech companies.
From viral tweets and freeway billboards to entice technology businesses from cities such as San Francisco, to his YouTube Cafecito talks with influencers and celebrities, the mayor’s tactics are garnering attention but some question whether the hype will ultimately deliver benefits to Miami’s 470,000 residents as they look to recover from the pandemic.
Suarez told Cities Today: “There is a single, defining reason behind my push to attract tech to Miami: my residents.”
The mayor believes that in a rapidly evolving modern economy, cities need to be prepared for potential shocks and attracting high-paying, high-quality jobs is the best way to diversify and make the city more resilient.
“This Miami Movement isn’t about bringing in the very rich,” he added. “It’s about bringing in the innovative and productive classes from all around the country and the world, where people have been taken for granted by their local governments.”
Suarez cited companies such as Spotify, Goldman Sachs, Blackstone and Boston Private that have already decided to call Miami home. Several entrepreneurs and investors have also relocated and SoftBank recently announced plans to invest US$100 million into start-ups in the city.
The mayor even exchanged tweets with Elon Musk and met with Boring Company executives regarding the possibility of a tunnel in Miami.
And as well as seeking to draw bitcoin companies to the city, Suarez has floated the idea of paying city employees and investing city treasury in the cryptocurrency. City commissioners cautiously voted to study the proposals.
One challenge for the mayor will be to ensure residents and existing businesses don’t feel alienated or pushed out by a big tech influx. Cities such as San Francisco and Seattle have experienced this at first hand so going big on bitcoin doesn’t necessarily seem like the most user-friendly place to start.
According to a recent survey by The Harris Poll, more than one in ten US adults have never heard of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin. Six in ten people who had heard of them said they had little or no understanding of how they work, and 43 percent expressed doubts about their legitimacy as a form of payment.
Mayor Suarez said: “The easiest, cheapest way to teach people about bitcoin — or anything for that matter — is by making it more culturally pervasive, and that starts with accessibility. By making bitcoin an option for paying bills or even compensation, we spur the conversation and people will have a natural inclination to learn what is.”
He added: “The push to attract technology to the City of Miami has nothing to do with imposing novelties on anybody but everything to do with expanding my residents’ options for financial freedom — if people want to adopt bitcoin or not, it should be entirely…