All agree that South Florida tech entrepreneurs are abuzz over new projects. In the last several years, nonprofits like the Knight Foundation and the Beacon Council have donated both time and dollars to make the region more desirable for tech businesses. Dozens of incubators and accelerators have popped up, including Endeavor Miami, Venture Hive and The South Florida Accelerator.
But while the region's "techpreneurs" certainly show promise, they've got a long way to go if they want to compete. Jacques Hart, CEO and co-founder of public relations firm Roar Media, says South Florida needs more than hype to drive the growth of its technology sector. "The reason we're not creating innovative, disruptive tech companies is fueled by a talent-retention problem," Hart said. "Are talented innovators coming here? Are they staying here? Are we supporting them?"
Many also agree that the retention problem is closely tied to market earnings. According to the Miami Herald, most South Florida tech employees are unhappy with their salaries and see little room for growth. "
"Most of the tech firms currently in South Florida are middle market enterprises, and there really aren't enough technology jobs to go around," said Andres Campo, CEO of Axxis Solutions and chair of the technology group for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. "So you have companies in the medium market space paying bottom dollar for high-skill-set individuals. It's impossible to retain top talent when they know they can get a better job if they move to Boston or San Francisco.""
Both Hart and Campo agree it's turned into a vicious cycle, as low wages are often a product of a company's capital. "We see a lot of incubators and programs for startup growth, but access to working capital isn’t readily available". Additionally, Campo feels that a change of mindset is essential if South Florida is to emerge as a tech hub. "We need to have a serious conversation about how we can develop the tech community," he said. "There isn’t a strong legislative economic power behind it right now." As South Florida's tech economy braces for future growth – hopefully – it's clear that progress is being made, they say. "We're still young," according to Campo. "There's still a lot of room for this to grow and develop."
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