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Premier and BDA in Florida business meetings

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Business talk: David Burt, centre, with members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (Photograph supplied)

Meetings aimed at strengthening ties between Bermuda and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, particularly the business communities, were yesterday held in Florida.

David Burt was welcomed by Francis Suarez and Dan Gelber, the mayors of Miami and Miami Beach, respectively, during the one-day trip that was arranged by the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

The Premier and members of the BDA also met other civic land business leaders, including the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

The discussions with the Chamber ranged from trade and tourism to fintech, infrastructure investment, and social and educational programmes of mutual benefit.

“We made some valuable connections on several fronts,” said Ross Webber, CEO of the BDA.

“There was good familiarity with Bermuda, and we were able to reinforce very positive messaging about the island. From our perspective, we will follow up and explore opportunities for new economic activity from this region.”

While Alfred Sanchez, president of the Chamber, said: “It’s quite an honour to have the Premier and the whole delegation here and there’s obviously so much that is already happening and much more is possible.

“We talked about technology, especially fintech and healthtech, we’ve got free-trade zones — the sky’s the limit, and we just needed to start the conversation. Our members are eager to look for trade opportunities both ways.”

Meanwhile, Mr Suarez promised to explore naming Bermuda as a “sister community” of Miami, while Mr Gelber presented the Premier with a ceremonial key to Miami Beach.

Mr Burt said: “I was pleased to support the BDA on this very worthwhile initiative. It’s important to establish business links in cities where Bermuda already enjoys direct travel connections.

“Miami is going through an economic resurgence currently, with notable investment of new capital.

“We can certainly look to do things together, whether it’s deepening the links between our regions when it comes to insurance, or taking advantage of Miami’s healthcare institutions for Bermudians. These are all topics we will follow up on. It’s also important to establish political relations with civic leaders in gateway cities like Miami.”

Mr Burt and Mr Suarez, held an informal 30-minute meeting. Among the Bermuda delegation was Mr Webber and BDA board member Lydia Dickens of the Ministry of Economic Development.

The mayor and Premier traded insights on their recent transitions into leadership, and discussed common agenda priorities, such as reducing income inequality and building resiliency against hurricanes and climate change.

And Mr Gelber, of Miami Beach, noted the Bermuda reinsurance sector’s important role in covering losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

“We rely on the reinsurance industry in a major way,” he said. “Windstorm damage in Miami Beach is a major driver of costs, so having available and affordable reinsurance is critical.

“Having Bermuda around the corner is important for us, and I’m glad the Premier and I got a chance to talk about that. Premier Burt is a millennial leader, but he’s got a vision for the future of his nation, which is important.”

Florida connection: Francis Suarez, mayor od Miami, with David Burt (Photograph supplied)