Beacon Council hopes to net air show, fashion summit with trips to France, Italy
By Zachary S. Fagenson
A seven-person, Beacon Council delegation will head to France and Italy early next week in hopes of bringing a commercial air show as well as a fashion summit to Miami.
Although the group's trip will begin in Italy, the focus of the two-week tour will be on the 48th International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.
The group, which includes Sunil Harmon of Miami-Dade Aviation, Jean-Michel Caffin, managing partner of Axis Americas LLC, and Glenn Cooper of Glenn M. Cooper & Associates. They are to be working to entice international companies to bring their operations to Miami and to establish an air show here similar to the one in Paris.
"We've been having discussions with the people at the Paris Air Show, particularly the president, about the feasibility of having a major commercial air show" in Miami, said Beacon Council President Frank Nero.
And while the show is still under development, Daniel Petree, dean of the college of business at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, said it could give South Florida a valuable position in a market poised for growth.
"South Florida has a population base [and] it has established relationships with community colleges and technical schools for training," said Mr. Petree, whose university has a branch campus in South Florida. "It has well-established relationships with Latin America and those markets look like they're poised to do quite well in the next recovery."
While he noted that demand for air travel generally parallels overall economic health, Mr. Petree also said the air cargo industry has suffered disproportionately during the downturn.
Although the struggling industry may not appear enticing at first glance, Miami's geographic position gives such logistical companies as maintenance contractors, freight forwarders, cargo handlers, insurance providers and more a good chance for a strong rebound.
What would help Miami's air travel industry most, Mr. Petree noted, would be to market South Florida as a region to both companies looking to move here and the leadership and potential exhibitors for the proposed air show.
"The way to think about it would be to lever the whole system of airports" in South Florida, he said. "If you could figure out a way to approach South Florida as an [available infrastructure] system it would change the economy."
Before heading to Paris, the group will spend the weekend "traveling from point A to point B" after stopping in Milan and Florence to court members of the fashion and lifestyle industry.
In Milan, the group will meet with Paolo Zegna, president and CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna and head of the government agency that oversees the country's fashion industry, and work to set up a fashion summit sometime in late fall or early winter.
"The idea would be to discuss where we are as a region and what we [could] do to raise our profile" in the fashion and lifestyle industry, Mr. Nero said in a telephone interview. "What we are looking at is... to ultimately establish a fashion district."
The district, he added, would include a "consortium of showrooms, sales marketing and distribution offices" as well as serve as the headquarters for small and large fashion companies.
Miami's geographic position, he noted, is a valuable bargaining chip that could help the fashion companies reach Latin American markets.
The visit to Florence to showcase Miami to Tuscany and to iron out the last minute details of what Mr. Nero called "a major [wine and lifestyle] show which will be two or three days."
Mr. Nero wouldn't disclose the total cost of the trip, saying that volunteer members pay their own expenses. He said he hopes the trip will build on past prospects and establish new ones.
"Normally an international company, on the decision side, takes well over a year from when they meet with us to when they locate here," he said. "We met with the fashion people in Italy over a year ago and we're seeing that come to fruition now."